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31 refugees drown off Libya trying to reach Europe

Refugees wait to get on onboard the rescue vessel Golfo Azzurro by members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, after being rescued from a wooden boat sailing out of control in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya on Thursday, June 15, 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater / Anadolu Agency]
Refugees wait to get on onboard the rescue vessel after being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater / Anadolu Agency]

At least 31 refugees who were trying to cross to Europe from Libya drowned on Saturday, a Libyan military spokesperson said.

Capt. Ayoub Qasim, Libyan Naval Forces spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that coast guard teams reached the bodies of 31 refugees east of the capital Tripoli.

A total of 35 others were rescued, Qasim added.

The boat carrying the refugees had left the Libyan coast on Friday night, but sunk while it was trying to reach Europe, he added.

IOM: Mediterranean 'by far world's deadliest border' for migrants

Qasim said that there were children among the victims and all the refugees were African nationals.

According to the UN, nearly 151,000 refugees entered Europe by the Mediterranean so far in 2017, compared to some 335,000 by this point period last year.

Over 19,000 migrants have been rescued or intercepted in Libyan waters so far in 2017, according to the UN.

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AfricaEurope & RussiaInternational OrganisationsLibyaNewsUN
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