Story highlights

Migrants come from more than 20 countries

They are drawn to Libya as a funnel to Europe

CNN —  

Two boats carrying hundreds of people from various nations capsized near the Libyan city of Zuwara, killing at least 112 people, officials said Friday.

At least 198 people have been rescued, while 30 to 40 others remain missing, said Mohammed Al-Misrati, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent.

One of the boats went down Wednesday, while a second one capsized Thursday, he said.

The Red Crescent, along with the Libyan coast guard, rescued dozens of people from African countries and from Syria.

Hundreds of migrants have attempted to reach Europe by land and sea. So far this year, at least 2,373 have died as of this week, the International Organization for Migration said.

The death toll for all of last year was 3,281, and experts fear this year’s total could surpass that if boats carrying migrants continue making the perilous journey in uncertain weather.

They come from more than 20 countries, drawn to Libya as a funnel to Europe. Most are escaping war and persecution, while others are hoping for a better life.

Earlier this week, the Italian coast guard said 54 people lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, highlighting once again the scale of the migration crisis gripping Europe.

In Austria, dozens of refugees – most likely fleeing war-ravaged Syria – died of suffocation inside an abandoned truck on a highway, authorities said Friday.