At least 74 bodies recovered from beach near Zawiya amid fears of new disaster on one of Mediterranean's most dangerous migration routes
The bodies of at least 74 people have been found washed up on a beach in Libya in what is feared may be another deadly drowning incident on one of the Mediterranean's most dangerous migration routes.
The Red Crescent's Middle East And North Africa Twitter account posted images of workers covering up bodies on the beach near the western city of Zawiya, although a spokesperson for the organisation said on Tuesday that the circumstances of the deaths were still unknown.
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) February 20, 2017
More than 5,000 people drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe last year, according to the United Nations, making 2016 the deadliest year on record.
The route from Libya to Italy is considered to be among the most dangerous, with refugees and migrants packed onto overcrowded boats by people smugglers.
Crossings on lightweight inflatable or flimsy wooden boats have continued through the winter months despite poor weather and dangerous seas with the Italian coastguard last month rescuing about 1,000 people from unseaworthy vessels.
At least 2,300 migrants have already registered in Italy since 1 January, while at least 226 deaths have already been recorded, according to a UN count covering the entire Mediterranean.