About 250 people are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after two partially submerged rubber dinghies were found off the coast of Libya.

Laura Lanuza, a spokeswoman for the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, said its boat, Golfo Azzurro, recovered five floating bodies on Thursday close to the dinghies, about 30km off the Libyan coast.

She said the vessels would typically carry 120-140 people each. “We don’t think there can be any other explanation than that these dinghies would have been full of people,” Lanuza told AFP news agency.

“In over a year we have never seen any of these dinghies that were anything other than packed,” she added.

Lanuza said the bodies recovered were African men aged between 16 and 25. They drowned apparently in the 24 hours prior to them being discovered in waters directly north of the Libyan port of Sabratha.

A spokesman for Italy’s coastguard, which coordinates and participates in rescues, confirmed the five bodies were on board the rescue boat, which will remain in the area in case of any emergency calls.

 

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