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Bodies found in Libya boat accident, but hundreds missing

By the CNN Wire Staff
African migrants stranded on a boat coming from Libya wait for rescue services near Sfax, on the Tunisian coast, on June 4.
African migrants stranded on a boat coming from Libya wait for rescue services near Sfax, on the Tunisian coast, on June 4.
  • 26 bodies are recovered, a coast guard official tells Tunisia's state news agency
  • About 800 refugees were heading from Libya to Lampedusa, Italy
  • Between 200 and 270 people are missing from the overcrowded boat
  • Libya
  • Tunisia
  • Lampedusa

(CNN) -- At least 26 bodies have been recovered from the sea after a Libyan trawler got into trouble last week, but hundreds are still missing, according to Tunisia's state-run TAP news agency.

Bad weather is preventing the recovery of more bodies, the head of the Sfax coast guard told TAP Monday. The agency did not name the official.

As many as 270 Libyan refugees were missing in the Mediterranean Sea after the overcrowded boat they were in encountered bad weather, the Tunisian state-run TAP news agency reported last week.

The Tunisian coast guard responded to the rescue call regarding the fishing trawler, which became disabled Wednesday night near the Kerkennah Islands. The ship was reportedly taking some 800 refugees from Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa, TAP reported.

Between 200 and 270 people were missing, while 577 people were rescued, the coast guard official told TAP Monday.

People on the boat began pushing each other in a panic to reach the lifeboats when they ran into high waves and winds, TAP said.

Lampedusa, the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter the European Union.

More than 30,000 migrants and refugees from Tunisia and Libya have risked this dangerous journey to Lampedusa since last February.

Lampedusa and Malta, both islands less than an hour's flight from the North African coast, have borne the brunt of the subsequent wave of migration.

At one point, the population of migrants vastly outnumbered Lampedusa's residents, who number about 6,000.

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