The UN Migration Agency on Friday said 100 migrants were still missing, two days after their ship sunk off the Libyan coast.
“Forty others who were aboard were rescued and seven others are known to have lost their lives,’’ the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) added in a tweet.
The ship sank Wednesday off the eastern port of Zuwarah – a well-known migrant smuggling hub – after setting out on Sept. 15.
“Survivors said 130 people had been on board when the boat left the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha, Ayoub Qasim,’’ the spokesman for the Libyan navy forces, said.
Qasim told newsmen that the incident resulted from a malfunction in the boat’s engine after it ran out of fuel.
Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.
The North African has since emerged as the gateway to Europe for people fleeing war, persecution and poverty.
Hundreds of thousands have made the dangerous journey across Africa and the Mediterranean towards Italy.
Migration flows from Libya to Italy have sharply decreased since July following deals Rome struck with the Libyan coastguard and allegedly, local militias.
Italian Interior Ministry data shows in the year to date, there has been a 21 per cent decrease in migrant landings to Italy, to just over 103,000, compared to the same period of 2016.
However, numbers surged recently, for reasons yet unclear.
According to the IOM, over 2,200 people arrived from Sept. 11 to 17, almost five times more than in the previous week. (dpa/NAN)