Libyan coastguard rescues 115 migrants off Tripoli

EU's border control agency Frontex has accused donor-funded vessels of doing more harm than good by sailing off Libya and acting "like taxis", and Italian prosecutors have suggested they may have links with traffickers -- a charge they have denied (AFP Photo/ANDREAS SOLARO) (AFP/File)

Tripoli (AFP) - Libya's coastguard said it rescued 115 migrants on Sunday who had been aboard a rubber boat that broke down off Tripoli, and that one migrant had drowned.

The migrants "were on a rubber boat that broke down northwest of Khoms," some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital on Saturday, navy spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem told AFP.

He said the rescue began at 7:30 am local time and it took two hours to take the migrants to Khoms port where they were given medical aid.

They were then passed to the interior ministry's department tackling illegal immigration, he added.

The migrants were of various African nationalities.

People smugglers have exploited the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi to traffic migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

As many as 4,220 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, a higher number than the full-year totals for 2014, 2015 or any other year on record, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Libyan Red Crescent said on Saturday that in the past week it had retrieved the bodies of 40 migrants who had drowned attempting to reach Europe.

The same day, 10 migrants' bodies were recovered from a rubber boat and more than 2,200 people were rescued at sea, according to the Italian Coast Guard.

On Friday, 1,200 migrants were rescued in eight operations.