90 feared drowned off Libya after smuggler’s boat tips


About 90 people were feared drowned after a smuggler’s boat carrying mostly Pakistani migrants capsized off Libya early Friday, the U.N.’s migration agency said.

Ten bodies have washed ashore near the Libyan town of Zuwara following the early morning tragedy, said International Organization for Migration spokeswoman Olivia Headon, citing information from its partner agencies. Eight were believed to be Pakistani, and two Libyans.

“We are told that two survivors swam to shore, and one person was rescued by a fishing boat,” Headon said by phone from Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, to reporters at the U.N. in Geneva. “We are working to get more details on the [capsizing] and where the survivors are so that we can assist them better.”


She said Pakistani nationals have been an increasing share of the migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe via Libya. Pakistanis made up the 13th-largest nationality represented among migrants making the crossing, while they grew to the third-largest national contingent in January.

IOM says 6,624 people crossed the Mediterranean in January — about two-thirds of them to Italy alone — about a 10% increase from a year earlier in January. About 250 people died in the crossing in January, six fewer than a year ago in the same month.