The body was found for fear of drowning in the Mediterranean as a capsized boat of at least 130 migrants

According to the French humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranee, a charity searching the Mediterranean for merchant ships and boats carrying immigrants found 10 floating near an overturned inflatable raft.

A group spokesman said on Friday that another wooden boat was still missing and about 40 migrants were on board.

A private hotline, AlarmPhone, reported Wednesday that three boats were in distress and urged SOS Mediterranee to begin a search “in very rough waters with waves up to 6 meters,” the non-government said. The organization stated in a previously published news release.

Three merchant ships helped the charity rescue ship Ocean Viking find a boat on the high seas northeast of the Libyan city of Tripoli.

SOS Mediterranee said the merchant ship MY ROSE found three bodies underwater and an airplane from the EU border guard Frontex found a rubber boat shortly thereafter.

No survivors were found when the Ocean Viking arrived at the scene, but there were 10 bodies in the nearby water. A statement released on Twitter included a photo of a capsized black inflatable raft.

An NGO spokesman said there was no information about the third boat that AlarmPhone said was suffering.

Libya has been divided by civil war for many years and is the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe.

The International Organization for Migration of the United Nations said the recent deaths have brought the Central Mediterranean route to nearly 500 people this year, more than triple the number of casualties during the same period in 2020.

“The state was rebellious and refused to act to save the lives of more than 100 people,” said Safa Msehli of IOM. “Clarify that it is the state responsibility to respond to distress signals at sea,” she added.

UN agencies have called for resuming state-led search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and stopping migrants from returning to “unsafe ports.”

In a report at the end of March last year, IOM said more than 2,200 people had died at sea.

The real casualties are probably much higher, as the aid group reported at least five “invisible shipwrecks” that were not identified because they did not leave survivors.

By Maria Pia Quaglia and Emma Farge

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