Libya coastguard rescues 121 migrants adrift at sea

Friday 04/09/2015
Second rescue operation in a matter of days

TRIPOLI - Libya's coastguard said it rescued more than 100 migrants Monday after the engine on their rubber dinghy broke down as they tried to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.

"We rescued 121 migrants on a rubber boat which broke down" off the town of Qarabulli, 60 kilometres (35 miles) east of Tripoli, Lieutenant Mohammed Dandi, a coastguard commander, said.

It was the second such operation in a matter of days, after 104 migrants were rescued on Thursday in the same area under similar circumstances.

Dandi said the 121 migrants, from Arab and African countries and including 10 women, were taken ashore on two boats and transferred to a reception centre in the capital.

Libya, with a coastline of 1,770 kilometres, has for years been a stepping stone for Africans seeking a better life in Europe.

Most head for Italy's Lampedusa island which is 300 kilometres from Libya.

People smugglers have taken advantage of chaos in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi to step up their lucrative business.

They take would-be migrants on board rickety boats for the treacherous Mediterranean crossing.

About 2,500 people have died at sea this year alone.

Last month, a boat transporting 400 migrants sank off the western Libyan port of Zuwara with only half of its passengers rescued.