A boat filled with up to 250 migrants heading for Europe sunk off the Libyan coast and many passengers died, a spokesman for the Libyan navy said.
“Only 26 people have been rescued after the boat sunk near Tajoura, East of the capital Tripoli,” said navy spokesman Ayub Qassem, Aljazeera reported.
“There are so many dead bodies floating in the sea,” Qassem added, adding that the under-equipped coastguard had few resources to search for survivors.
The BBC said that “the International Organization for Migration (IOM) quoted two Palestinian survivors as telling them that the traffickers deliberately sank the boat after an argument on board.”
Migrants have been streaming out of Libya in boats in rising numbers for years, on their way to Europe.
“So far in 2014, more than 100,000 have reached Italy’s shores,” the Italian government said this week.
Human traffickers are exploiting the political chaos and lack of security caused by western intervention in the country’s internal affairs that has blighted Libya since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising in 2011.
More than 100 African migrants died in a similar boat accident in August.