A group of migrants is being rescued by volunteers of the Ocean Viking rescue ship, run by NGOs SOS Mediterranee and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFCR), early Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022 in the Mediterranean sea, some 30 nautical miles from Zawiya, Libya. Forty one migrants, mostly from Egypt and North Sudan, were rescued in the operation. AP
The boat was carrying 27 migrants and was found over the weekend off the northeastern town of Tolmeitha, around 110 kilometers (68 miles) east of Benghazi, the Department for Combating Illegal Migration said.
The agency said in a statement that at least six migrants survived the shipwreck. Two bodies were retrieved while 19 others remained missing and presumed dead, it said.
A video posted on the agency's Facebook page showed rescuers providing drinking water to an exhausted survivor.
The agency said the boat embarked from Egypt and capsized off Libya. It did not provide further details including what caused the boat to overturn.
The migrants were apparently sailing to Europe, a destination for thousands fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Tens of thousands attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea every year in efforts to reach European shores.
Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across the country's lengthy borders with six nations. The migrants are then packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and other vessels and set off on risky sea voyages. Officials didn't say what kind of vessel was found over the weekend.