Libyan coast guard says 97 missing after migrant boat sinks

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African immigrants, whose boat sank off the Libyan coast, gather upon their rescue in Tripoli, capital of Libya, on April 13, 2017.

The civil guard based on the island of Mallorca said their ships had found two boats with 14 men each both on Thursday and Friday.

Around 100 migrants were feared missing after their boat sank near the coast of Tripoli, a Libyan coastguard official said on Thursday, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

Spokesman Ayoub Qassem said 23 migrants were rescued around 10 kilometers off the coast of Tripoli after authorities received a distress call.

Some 97 are still missing, including 15 women and children.

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Those who had disappeared were "probably dead", Qassem said, adding that bad weather had prevented the recovery of their bodies.

Last week, the Italian coast guard rescued about 550 migrants making the journey across the Mediterranean.

Libya serves as a popular starting point for migrants, mostly from countries in sub-Saharan Africa, to try to reach Europe.

Libya remains a major gateway for asylum seekers attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 450,000 people having made the crossing over the past three years.

Since the beginning of this year, at least 590 migrants have died or gone missing along the Libyan coast, the International Organization for Migration said in late March.