Bodies of drowned refugees found on Libya's shores

The bodies of 74 drowned migrants have washed ashore from the Mediterranean in Libya, aid workers have said.

MigrantsIFRC said that the bodies were found by Libyan Red Crescent volunteers on Monday.

It appears that the deceased had been on a boat attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

The Red Crescent's branch in Zawiya said there are bodies still floating out at sea but it has no means to retrieve them.

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The Red Crescent published pictures of the bodies laid out in white and black body bags along the beach.

On Tuesday Italy's coast guard said it rescued around another 630 migrants off the coast of Libya from two drifting vessels, a large boat and a rubber raft.

European Border and Coast Guard Agency Director Fabrice Leggeri said last week there were 4,579 migrant deaths a year ago along the Libya-Italy smuggling route across the Mediterranean, a sharp increase from 2,869 deaths in 2015.

Since then, hundreds of people have been plucked from the waters north of the African nation, including 700 on January 30 alone off the western city of Sabratha. The IOM said the latest incident raised the total number of deaths this year to more than 365.

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Crossings on lightweight inflatable or flimsy wooden boats have continued through the winter months despite poor weather and risky seas with the Italian coastguard last month rescuing about 1,000 people from unseaworthy vessels.

The boats were between five and seven miles (8-11km) from the coast of Libya.

Most leave from the stretch of Libyan coast between Tripoli and the Tunisian border to the west.

This month European leaders offered Libya money and other assistance to try to reduce the numbers departing across the Mediterranean. But many human rights groups have decried the EU's plan, which they say would strand migrants in the country and leave them open to further human rights abuses at the hands of the local militias.

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