Libyan coast guard retrieves two bodies after a boat carrying migrants bound for Europe capsizes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Migrants rest on board the Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel after being rescued as they were trying to flee Libya on board a precarious wooden boat, in international waters, in the central Mediterranean sea, September 10, 2020.
Migrants rest on board the Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel after being rescued as they were trying to flee Libya on board a precarious wooden boat, in international waters, in the central Mediterranean sea, September 10, 2020. (AP)

A boat carrying refugees and migrants bound for Europe has capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, leaving at least two dozen people drowned or missing and presumed dead.

The UN migration agency announced the news on Tuesday.

Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration said Libya’s coast guard intercepted three boats on Monday, and one of them had capsized.

She says the coast guard retrieved two bodies, and survivors reported 22 others were missing and presumed dead.

Search and rescue in the Mediterranean

At least 45 survivors on the three boats were returned to the shore.

All migrants were men, with a majority from Egypt and Morocco, according to Msehli.

“This new tragedy signals yet again the need for increased search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean. Instead, we are seeing restrictions on NGOs and long, unnecessary stand-offs,” Msehli said.

The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Following deadly August shipwreck

Tuesday's tragedy came after a deadly boat accident in August killed at least 45 people, including five children.

It was the largest number of fatalities in a single shipwreck off the coast of the North African country.

The vessel, bound for Europe, sunk when its engine exploded.

The 37 survivors, mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad, and Ghana, were later detained when they disembarked in Libya.

Libya, which descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab refugees fleeing war and poverty to Europe.

READ MORE: Dozens of migrants die in 2020's deadliest shipwreck in Mediterranean

Source: AP