200 migrants feared dead after boat sinks near Libya

Rescuers remove the body of a migrant after their boat sank off the coast of in Zuwara, Libya. Picture: AP

Rescuers remove the body of a migrant after their boat sank off the coast of in Zuwara, Libya. Picture: AP

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Around 200 migrants are feared dead as authorities collect the bodies of victims who drowned off the Libyan coastal city of Zuwara.

Workers removed bodies from the water and pulled a flooded boat into the harbour that contained several drowned victims floating face down. At least one victim, a man, was wearing a life vest. They were put into body bags and lined up on the waterfront.

The United Nations refugee agency said up to 200 people were missing and feared dead, after the Libyan coastguard carried out rescue operations for two boats carrying an estimated 500 migrants.

Dozens of boats are launched from Libya each week, with Italy and Greece bearing the brunt of the surge.

Since a 2011 civil war that ended with the overthrow and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Gadhafi, the oil-rich north African country has been plunged into chaos.

It is divided between an elected parliament and government based in the eastern port city of Tobruk and an Islamist militia-backed government in the capital Tripoli - with militants from the Islamic State group also exploiting the chaos.

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