The Libyan navy said Thursday that almost 100 migrants were missing after their Europe-bound boat sank off the country's coast, while 29 others were rescued.
"According to information received on Wednesday afternoon, 20 illegal immigrants of African nationalities have been rescued," General Ayoub Qassem, a navy spokesman in Tripoli, told AFP.
"They were on an inflatable dinghy which tore and filled up with water," he said.
Qassem quoted a survivor as telling his rescuers that the boat had set off with 126 migrants on boat from Garabulli, 70 kilometres (45 miles) east of Tripoli, and went down battered by high waves.
Three women and a child were among the 97 missing, he said.
The United Nations says the perilous journey across the Mediterranean for migrants desperate to reach Europe has so far this year claimed more than 3,800 lives, a record.
On Wednesday, French aid group Doctors without Borders (MSF) said it had found the bodies of 29 migrants who perished in a pool of fuel and seawater on a crowded dinghy off
Libya, probably from suffocation, skin burns or drowning.