Eight migrants, locked in an abandoned lorry container in Libya’s western city of Zuwara, have suffocated to death, according to officials there.
Six children, one woman, and a young man spent their last moments trapped in the overcrowded container, breathing in fumes from gallons of petrol stored in jerry cans in the container.
The vehicle, which was discovered by a security squad in the east of the city, was holding nearly 100 people in it from various nationalities.
The other 90 migrants were rescued from the lorry, and officials in Zuwara said those who were in a critical condition were transferred to hospital for treatment.
A statement about the incident was published on the official Facebook page of Zuwara’s Security Directorate this morning.The dead and the survivors include sub-Saharan Africans, Arabs, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.
Officials also published pictures showing abandoned dusty slippers and a pile of clothes and life jackets, as well as several jerry cans of petrol, cooking gas canisters, and wood panels found in the container.
The coastal city of Zuwara is one of western Libya’s main transit points for migration to Europe by sea.
Smugglers frequently use lorry containers to transport migrants between southern and coastal cities – but it’s not clear why this one was abandoned near an oil and gas complex in the city.
Officials say a search is now under way to arrest those responsible for locking up the migrants in the lorry, but they did not provide any details about their identities.