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Ninety feared dead after shipwreck off Libya coast

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AL JAZEERA – Around 90 people have drowned after a shipwreck off Western Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesperson for the UN-affiliated body said 10 bodies had washed ashore near the town of Zuwara and that the death toll included at least eight Pakistani nationals and two Libyans.

A fishing boat rescued one survivor and another two managed to swim to the shore.

Circumstances surrounding how the boat got into difficulties and ended up capsizing are still unclear.

The route from Libya through the Mediterranean to Italy and other EU states drew nearly 120,000 people in 2017.

As authorities in the EU and Turkey work to clamp down on routes between the Turkish coast and Greek islands, refugees and migrants are looking for alternate routes into Europe.

Libya with its weak central government and proximity to Italian territory is increasingly becoming the preferred option for many refugees despite the dangers involved in crossing the Mediterranean.

People smugglers often send refugees on their way on overcrowded and poorly maintained boats that are prone to capsizing or sinking.

The IOM describes the Mediterranean Sea as the world’s deadliest border and the body of water claimed the lives of 3,116 people trying to cross into Europe in 2017.

EU states, including Italy, are working with Libyan authorities to stem the flow of refugees trying to make the journey but Libyan officials say they do not have the resources to tackle the issue.

On January 10, around 100 refugees died when the inflatable boat they were travelling on capsized.

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