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The Libyan Red Crescent yesterday recovered the bodies of 74 people that washed ashore yesterday (20 February), near Zawiya on Libya’s northern coast. It appears that the people on board were attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. More than 270 people are believed to have drowned in the first weeks of 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2016, more than 5,000 deaths were recorded, making it the deadliest year on record.

The bodies of at least 74 migrants washed ashore in Libya


Dozens of bodies were found washed ashore in Zawiya, Libya, on Monday, Libyan officials reported Tuesday. 

Migrant deaths have risen to record levels as people are smuggled out of Middle Eastern countries facing danger.

At least 74 bodies were found, according to Red Crescent spokesman Mohammed al-Misrati. He expected more to be found, since the boats used to smuggle people often carry up to 120 people. 

Red Crescent posted photos of body bags lined up along the shore.

We are seeing the new boats which are not equipped with anything... This is going to be even more disastrous to the migrants.
Ayoub Gassim, Libya coast guard

This comes after more than 500 migrants were rescued over the weekend off the shore of the city of Sebretha. 

Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim said smugglers are using larger rubber boats to pile more people on board. But that puts people at risk.

By the numbers (according to European Border and Coast Guard Agency)

  • Total number of migrant deaths along the Mediterranean route in 2016: 4,579
  • Total number of migrant deaths in 2015: 2,869
  • Total number of deaths in January: 228, by far the biggest monthly total in years

Many migrants flee sub-Saharan African nations in search of a better life in Europe. But Libyan militias and competing governments often profit from human trafficking and capitalize on vulnerable migrants.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies captured photos of the scene. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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