Migrants: Libya, 74 bodies found on west coast

Mohamed al-Misrati said the bodies had been recovered on Monday and that the migrants appeared to have died during the past two days.

He said a torn rubber boat was found nearby and he expected more bodies to surface as such boats usually carry up to 120 people. Workers from the local Red Crescent Society, the equivalent of the Red Cross, covered the bodies on the beach. Sabratha is a launching point for many immigrants' boats but the trip from Sabratha to Italy is among the most unsafe crossings of the Mediterranean Sea, the news website Middle East Eye reported.

Photos showed dozens of body bags lined up along the beach, which was littered with debris as large waves crashed on the shore.

After sealing off most of the sea passages between Turkey and Greece in 2016, the European Union (EU) is seeking methods to halt the surge of refugees from Libya. "Traffickers reportedly stole the engine and left it to drift", the agency said.

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"We don't have an appropriate vehicle to transport the bodies or a cemetery for unidentified bodies to bury them in", the group said.

More than 180,000 people made the crossing previous year, an increase of 17 per cent from 2015. Another 12 migrants from the boat remain missing and are "presumed drowned", according to the United Nations migration agency.

Leggeri blamed the small dinghies and poor vessels used by the smugglers for the high death rate.

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.

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

Competing governments in Libya and many militias on the ground are profiting from human trafficking.

The country sank into lawlessness following the 2011 uprising that turned into a full-blown civil war that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

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