At least 15 persons were missing and feared drowned off the coast of Libya on Saturday after a boat carrying around three dozen migrants bound for Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, a U.N. official said.
Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said the shipwreck took place off the coastal town of Zawiya. The town is about 48 kilometers (30 miles) west of the capital, Tripoli.
She said that among the missing were two children, and that at least 20 migrants from Chad, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan were rescued and returned Libya.
“The search continues to recover the bodies,” Msehli said. She added that the migrants had no life jackets, the boat was in poor condition and had capsized shortly after setting off.
Alarm Phone, an independent support group for people crossing the Mediterranean, said it received a call from a relative of a migrant who fled Libya that a boat was in distress.
The group said it could not contact the boat. Later, the relative initially reported that at least 15 migrants died at sea, and at least 17 others were returned to Libya, it said.