Nearly 100 refugees missing after boat sinks off Libya

Twenty-three people rescued from inflatable craft

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The Independent Online

Nearly 100 refugees are missing after their boat sank off the Libyan coast near Tripoli, a coastguard official has said.

Coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said 23 people were rescued from the craft off Gargaresh, a western suburb of Tripoli.

Survivors said the inflatable boat had set off with about 120 on board.

"Some 97 are still missing, including 15 women and children," Mr Qassem said.

"What happened is that the base of the boat got wrecked and the boat had sunk."

Two weeks ago, 146 refugees drowned off the Libyan coast.

A 16-year-old boy, believed to be the only survivor of the disaster, told rescuers at least five children and several pregnant women were among those who drowned.

Babies among more than 1,300 refugees rescued in one day

The latest tragedy comes after Libya suspended a deal struck with Italy to reduce refugee boat crossings across the Mediterranean Sea.

The justice ministry in Tripoli did not give a reason for the move.

“The justice ministry of the Government of National Accord (GNA) confirms that the court is still examining the issue in order pending a ruling, and that no final judgement has been issued,” it said.

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