Scores of bodies of African migrants washed ashore in Libya, in the western city of Zawiya on the Mediterranean Sea, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent says. The drownings—at least 74 bodies were found in Zawiya—are the latest tragedy at sea after migrant deaths rose to record levels along the Libya-Italy smuggling route over the past months. The Red Crescent's spokesman, Mohammed al-Misrati, tells the AP that the bodies were found on Monday morning and that the Red Crescent workers retrieved them between 1pm and 7pm. He says a torn rubber boat was found nearby and that he expects more bodies to surface as such boats usually carry up to 120 people.
Al-Misrati says the local authorities will take the bodies to a cemetery in the capital of Tripoli that is allocated for unidentified persons. Last week, Fabrice Leggeri, director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said the Libya-Italy smuggling route across the Mediterranean saw record numbers of migrant drownings in 2016: 4,579, which still might be much less than the true loss of life. That's compared to 2,869 deaths in 2015 and 3,161 in 2014. There is little sign that the surge is abating, even during wintertime. There were 228 recorded deaths in January, by far the biggest monthly toll in recent years. Leggeri blamed the very small dinghies and poor vessels used by the smugglers for the high death rate.