The victims are believed to be migrants who were on the treacherous route to Europe from Libya.Authorities said the boat was spotted Saturday by a patrol plane operating as part of a European anti-smuggling operation.Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO that rescues migrants who run into difficulty trying to cross the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, that only some of the migrants were rescued after spending hours in the water, and that dozens of people were still missing.
The vast North African country is home to competing governments and parliaments, with real power held by an array of militias, many of which make money from trafficking and packing hundreds of desperate migrants in unseaworthy boats to make the unsafe voyage across the Mediterranean.
"We found the migrant boat at about 10 o'clock this morning, it had sunk and we found 16 migrants".
"Unfortunately, there are a large number of missing people ranging from 90 to 100 illegal migrants from the boat, " the navy said in a statement.
The migrants, mostly Africans, had embarked on the perilous trip across the Mediterranean on board several vessels and the survivors were found on Tuesday. "I feel so disappointed and I don't want to go to prison". More than 600,000 have crossed the central Mediterranean in the past four years, generally travelling in flimsy inflatable craft provided by smugglers that often break down or puncture.
The high death rate among the migrants is often blamed on small dinghies and poor vessels used by the smugglers, who also appear still willing to courageous the choppy winter sea.
It was a tragic start to New Year for migrants from Nigeria and other countries as hundreds of them crossing to Italy and Spain were feared dead in the Mediterranean Sea, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.