Libya says it rescued nearly 700 migrants in Mediterranean over two days

African-migrants-in-lybia
African migrants, who according to the Libyan navy were rescued by the country’s coast guard, are brought to the naval base of the capital Tripoli on Thursday.

Nearly 700 migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya in the past 48 hours, the conflict-hit nation’s navy said Thursday, with three people attempting to reach Europe drowning.

Coast guard elements on Thursday rescued 142 migrants from across Africa after their inflatable dinghy sank 25 nautical miles off shore, and collected three bodies from the water, the Libyan navy said.

Earlier in the day the navy said two other operations in the same area saw 236 people pulled from the water.

The latest incidents came after a coast guard patrol from the capital Tripoli picked up 301 migrants, including 46 children and three women on Wednesday, officials said.

Libya has been gripped by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with rival administrations and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

The chaos has seen the country become a key departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe, with hundreds drowning each year as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

The European Union said Thursday it was discussing plans with U.N. agencies to set up migrant processing centers outside the bloc.