Tue Feb 21, 2017 01:32PM
Members of the Libyan Red Crescent carry the bodies of drowned refugees after they were washed ashore in Andalus district of the capital, Tripoli, January 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Members of the Libyan Red Crescent carry the bodies of drowned refugees after they were washed ashore in Andalus district of the capital, Tripoli, January 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Red Crescent has reported that 74 bodies of refugees, apparently from a refugee boat which had tried to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, have been washed up on Libya’s western coast.

The group said on Tuesday that Libyan emergency services had found the bodies the previous day after they received alerts from residents of the village of Harcha, outside Zawiya, 45 kilometers from the capital, Tripoli.

Most of the bodies were found inside the wrecked boat while others were stranded elsewhere on the beach, Red Crescent's spokesman, Mohammed al-Misrati, said, adding that the death toll could rise as the rubber boats found at the scene usually carry up to 120 people.

"We don't have an appropriate vehicle to transport the bodies or a cemetery for unidentified bodies to bury them in," said the Red Crescent official who added, "Some bodies are still on the beach and others that we can't reach are still floating in the water."

The International Organization for Migration, which monitors the refugee movements and casualties across the Mediterranean, said the boat reportedly had been carrying 100 refugees when it foundered on Sunday.

Refugees step over dead bodies while being rescued by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO (now shown) in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, October 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Libyan coast guard rescued some 187 refugees at the same place on Saturday.

More than 365 refugees have been killed trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, an absolute majority of them on the route in central Mediterranean from western Libya to Italy. Italian officials have also recorded a sharp increase in the number of arrivals in 2017. They said 10,120 people had arrived as of Sunday compared with 6,589 between January 1 and February 18, 2016.

The surge is mainly due to a deal reached between the European Union and Turkey to curb a historic flow of refugees from the eastern Mediterranean while people smugglers are also benefiting from the chaos in Libya.