- The Washington Times - Friday, June 3, 2016

The bodies of more than 100 migrants and refugees whose boat capsized while trying to cross from North Africa to Europe washed ashore along northwestern Libya’s Mediterranean coast on Friday.

At least 40 of the 107 victims found on beaches near the Libyan city of Zuwarah — about 30 miles from Libya’s border with Tunisia — were women and five of them were children.

Mohammed al-Mosrati, a spokesman for Libya’s Red Crescent organization, told The Associated Press that the condition of the bodies suggests they were not “decomposed and therefore have drowned within the past 48 hours,” and that all but a few were from African countries.

Mr. al-Mosrati said a migrant boat that capsized off Libya on Wednesday may have been carrying the migrants who perished, but that strong wind and current could have carried the bodies across significant distance, making it difficult to known for sure where they came from.

Another boat capsizes

The development came as authorities in Greece said hundreds of people had survived a separate migrant boat sinking, that occurred off the coast of the Greek island of Crete on Friday.

While four people died in the incident, 340 migrants were rescued and the Greek coast guard said the survivors were being transported to Italy, Egypt, Malta and Turkey, AP said.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported this week that the number of shipwrecks and other incidents effecting migrant boats on the Mediterranean has surged during recent months, as has the number of people who’ve died.

“Estimated deaths through 30 May this year have risen to 2,443 on all Mediterranean routes — a 34 percent increase over the first five months of 2015,” the organization said on its website.

It also said an “estimated 204,311 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 30 May, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.”

The origins of the refugees is far reaching, according to the IOM, which pointed to the case of a boat that was rescued with 64 people on board off the Greek coast last week.

“Among those rescued were 13 people from Afghanistan: (6 male; 7 female), 17 from Iran (13 male; 4 female), 28 from Iraq (14 male; 14 female), 5 from Syria (2 male; 3 female) and from 1 from Pakistan (1 boy),” the organization said. “There were also two pregnant women. The migrants included a 9-month old Iraqi baby and a 71-year old Iraqi woman, travelling alone.”

“According to the migrants, they were forced to pay to the smugglers between $5,000 and $7,500 for their passage,” the IOM said.

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