Europe

The Latest: Libya finds over 100 bodies after boat capsized

  • Migrants set up in a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up a camp near the English channel, hoping to be able to cross the waterway into the UK.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

    Migrants set up in a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up a camp near the English channel, hoping to be able to cross the waterway into the UK.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)  (The Associated Press)

  • Migrants set up in a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up a camp near the English channel, hoping to be able to cross the waterway into the UK.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

    Migrants set up in a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up a camp near the English channel, hoping to be able to cross the waterway into the UK.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)  (The Associated Press)

  • Migrants set up a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016.  A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up the new camp near the English channel and hoping to be able cross into the UK. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

    Migrants set up a new makeshift camp along the storm-hit cliffs near the port of Dieppe, northern France, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A group of around 150 Albanian migrants are setting up the new camp near the English channel and hoping to be able cross into the UK. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on incidents of migrant boats sinking in the Mediterranean Sea (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

Libya's navy spokesman says that more than 100 bodies of migrants have been retrieved after a boat capsized off Libya's shores.

Col. Ayoub Gassim has told The Associated Press that at least 104 bodies have been pulled out of the waters near the western city of Zwara but that the expected death toll is likely to be higher since such boats usually carry up to 125 people.

He said the Libyan coast guards found the empty boat on Thursday and that it's possible the boat capsized on Wednesday.

Speaking over the telephone, he blamed Europe for "doing nothing but counting bodies" to stop the illegal migration from Libya.

The discovery of the bodies off Zwara is the latest in a string of tragedies that have already claimed more than 1,000 lives in recent weeks as desperate migrants embark on treacherous sea journeys seeking a better life in Europe.

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9 a.m.

Four bodies were recovered and 340 people rescued Friday from a sinking migrant boat carrying a "significant number" of people in the Mediterranean Sea south of the Greek island of Crete, authorities said.

The coast guard said the roughly 25-meter (82-foot) vessel, which resembled a large fishing boat, had been carrying an undetermined number of people when it was located Friday half-sunk about 75 nautical miles south of Crete in international waters, and within Egypt's search and rescue area of operation.

Greece was sending two patrol vessels, a military airplane and three helicopters, while five passing ships were participating in the rescue operation and one more was on its way. The coast guard said the operation was continuing to locate any potentially missing passengers from the migrant boat.

It was not immediately clear where the boat's passengers were from, or where the vessel had set off from or was heading to.

"The information we have on the number of people on board the vessel is still unclear — we've heard that there were 400 or 500 people on board, but we cannot confirm that number," Coast Guard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos said.

"There is a huge rescue effort underway."

It wasn't immediately clear where the survivors will be taken. Authorities in southern Crete said temporary shelter space — possibly sports facilities — was being sought on the island to house people if they are taken there.

Migrant smugglers have opted for more dangerous routes after a March agreement

The short crossing from the Turkish coast to Greek islands was the preferred route for migrants heading to Europe until Balkan countries closed their borders and the European Union reached an agreement with Turkey to stem the flow of people.

Under that deal, those arriving on Greek islands from March 20 onwards face deportation back to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece, a financially troubled country few migrants or refugees want to stay in.

The deal has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of people arriving on Greek islands from Turkey. The coast guard said it and European border patrol agency Frontex had rescued 164 people in four separate incidents Thursday off the islands of Lesbos and Chios. Before the EU-Turkey deal, thousands would arrive each day.

However, the agreement has led refugees and migrants to seek alternative routes, with many attempting the much longer and more dangerous crossing from north Africa towards Italy. Hundreds have died in the past few weeks when overcrowded boats attempting the crossing sank.

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Derek Gatopoulos in Athens and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

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