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Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 18:22 UK

'Many dead' as migrant boat sinks

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An Egyptian man is thought to be the sole survivor of a boatload of migrants that sank trying to reach Italy from Libya, Egyptian officials have said.

The man is now in Libyan custody after being rescued and returned to Libya. About 20 bodies have been recovered.

The survivor said 150 people were on the boat, which sank shortly after leaving Libya on 7 June, an Egyptian diplomat in Libya told the BBC.

The boat reportedly held Egyptians, Tunisians, Somalis and Bangladeshis.

Perilous crossing

Libya is a key transit point for African migrants trying to reach southern Europe.

The Egyptian passengers on the boat had each paid between $2,500 and $5,000 (1,272-2,544) to a human trafficker for their passage to Italy.

The survivor told Egyptian officials in Libya that the boat's engine had stopped working a few hours after leaving the Libyan town of Zuwarah, close to the border with Tunisia.

The boat then foundered and sank. He said the other passengers could not swim.

Hundreds of people are believed to drown each year trying to make the often-perilous crossing to Europe from Africa.



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