Eight migrants including six children were found dead after suffocating from petrol fumes while packed into a truck container on the west Libyan coast, authorities said.
Another 90 migrants saved from the container were in critical condition and were taken to a local hospital for treatment, the security directorate in Zuwara said in a statement.
Zuwara is one of the points along Libya’s western coastline where smugglers and traffickers hold migrants before putting them on boats to cross to Europe.
The migrants were from various sub-Saharan African and Arab countries, as well as Pakistan and Bangladesh, the statement said. They were shut inside a refrigerated container designed for transporting meat or fish found just outside Zuwara.
“As a result of the length of time they suffocated, eight died including six children, a woman and a young man,” the security directorate said, adding gallons of petrol were found in the container.
It posted pictures of at least nine plastic jerry cans in the container, as well as life-jackets apparently intended for use in a boat crossing.
Daytime temperatures in north-west Libya have been in the mid to high 30s Celsius in recent days.
Smugglers and traffickers took advantage of Libya’s lawlessness to send hundreds of thousands of migrants to Italy over the past four years, though flows have slowed since last summer due to an Italian-backed crackdown on smuggling networks.