Skip to main content

At least 40 dead after boat sinks off Tripoli

By Jomana Karadsheh and Kisa Mlela Santiago, CNN
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A boat sank off the coast of Tripoli Sunday killing at least 40 people
  • 50 others were rescued and an unspecified number remains missing
  • The boat was carrying illegal migrants trying to reach Europe
  • Libya has asked Europe for help dealing with the "serious problem" of illegal migration

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- A boat carrying illegal migrants sank off the coast of Tripoli on Sunday, killing at least 40 people, the spokesman for Libya's Interior Ministry told CNN.

Some 50 others were rescued, and an unspecified number remain missing, Rami Kaal said.

Kaal did not have information on the specific nationalities of the migrants on the vessel but said Libya is suffering greatly from the "huge number" of illegal migrants in his country.

According to the spokesman, most have come from sub-Saharan Africa, neighboring countries like Egypt and Tunisia and, more recently, more have come from Syria.

Libya's migrant workers face suspicion

The migrants arrive to board boats headed to European shores, particularly Italy and Malta.

Kaal feels that the European countries have an obligation to help Libya deal with this "serious problem" but said, so far, they have done little.

According to Kaal, the flow of illegal migrants has contributed to the rise in crimes such as killings and armed robberies in Libya.

He referred CNN to the statements made by acting Interior Minister Salah Mazeq on Saturday. The minister threatened to "facilitate" the passage of migrants and "flood Europe" with them unless the countries stepped up and helped Libya.

"I warn the world, especially the European Union, unless they assume their responsibility ... we warn that Libya could facilitate the passage of this flood (of illegal migrants) and fast," Mazeq said. He went on to say Libya has paid the price; now it's the EU's turn to pay the price of combating the problem.

Libya's porous southern borders have been a favorite launch pad for illegal migrants trying to reach Europe due to its proximity to countries like Malta and Italy. Since Libya's revolution in 2011, the country has been struggling to deal with this growing phenomenon.

To give scope to the problem, Kaal told CNN last week more than 400 migrants were caught in one day as they tried to board vessels to Europe.

Asked how Europe can offer assistance, he offered the example of the delivery of boats for Libya's coastguard from an unnamed European country that has been stalled for more than 18 months.

Following the Interior Minister's comments, the Libyan Interim Government released a statement, saying in part:

"The government also reaffirms it is continuing to cooperate with all concerned countries, especially Italy, in monitoring the borders to stem the flow of migrants. The Government renews its call to all countries to create development projects in the countries of origin in an effort to cut down on this phenomenon."

Migrants die as two boats capsize off Greek island

Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants from overcrowded boats in a day

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 10:20 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT