The Libyan Red Crescent said Tuesday at least 74 bodies of African migrants have been recovered from the shores along Libya’s northern coast.

Red Crescent spokesman Mohammed al-Misrati said a torn rubber boat was found Monday morning near the town of Zawiya on the Mediterranean coast. Al-Misrati expects more bodies to surface as such boats typically transport up to 120 people.

Al-Misrati said the bodies would be taken to a cemetery in the capital of Tripoli that has been reserved for unidentified people.

The Libyan coast guard said more than 500 migrants were rescued off the shore west of Zawiya Friday and Saturday, further increasing the record numbers of migrant deaths along a key smuggling route over recent months.

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

Competing governments in Libya and many militias on the ground are profiting from human trafficking. Rights groups have documented cases of migrant torture, rape and forced labor.

Libya has been a largely lawless country since a 2011 uprising sparked a civil-war that led to the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.


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