The Libyan coast guard says 97 migrants are missing and believed drowned after their Europe-bound boat sank on a perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.


Spokesman Ayoub Gassim says 23 migrants were rescued around 6 miles (10 kilometers) off the coast after authorities received a distress call Thursday morning.

Fifteen women and five children are among those still missing.

He says the boat, which was loaded with African nationals seeking a better life in Europe, “completely collapsed.”

Chaotic Libya has become a major avenue of migration, with thousands braving the dangerous sea crossing to Europe. More than 4,500 migrants perished on the crossing in 2016 alone.



(Fox News referring Associated Press contributed to this report)