The dead bodies of desperate migrants who were bundled onto overcrowded boats destined for Europe, but capsize killing those on board, are washing up on Libya's beaches.

Their bones, half submerged in the sand, will be buried in unmarked graves, their relatives unaware their loved ones have perished.

Volunteers from Libyan Red Crescent Society collect the bodies which were swallowed and spat out by the Mediterranean Sea as they risked their lives on the perilous journey from Libya bound for the island of Lampedusa off the Italian coast.  

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 men, women and children who were able to survive treacherous journeys to Europe continued to be rescued off the coasts of Italy and Greece each day.

Shocking new photographs taken in Zuwara, on the west coast of Libya close to the Tunisian border, show the true extent of the migrant crisis. 

Bodies, some of which are barely more than a pile of bones, are being picked up on a 100-mile stretch of the war-torn country from Garaboli to Zuwara.

One heartbreaking picture is of a skeleton, which has been washed up on the beach with the still wearing the pair of yellow trousers and black leather belt they set off in. 

Taha Sultan, head of health at Libyan Red Crescent Society, an organisation working on the ground to help the country's vulnerable population, said hundreds of bodies had been washing up over the past year.

Speaking to MailOnline from Benghazi in the east of the country, he said: 'We have been dealing with this for more than a year along the west coast. 

'It happens every day. These kind of things happen all the time in Libya.'

Explaining the mindset of the people who board the boats, sometimes with their young families, Mr Sultan said: 'People are desperate to leave because it's dangerous, or they fear for their lives.

'We have war - people get killed and there is no help coming. We also have ISIS here now. It's very dangerous to live here.' 

Libya is split between two governments backed by armed factions fighting each other but which control limited territory. 

Islamic State and other armed groups have exploited a growing security vacuum on the ground to expand.

Libya Dawn, an alliance of armed groups, drove the internationally recognised government out of the capital, Tripoli, and declared its own government a year ago, leaving the oil-rich country on the verge of anarchy.

Sultan said that those who try to leave the country by legal means are unable to get visas, so opt for dangerous trips across the sea on rickety ships.

Migrants who have arrived in Italy say human traffickers based in lawless Libya charge them between £770 and £1,150 for a place on the deck of boats. Those crammed in the hold pay about half as much as those above.

On Saturday, more than 40 migrants died in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast after suffocating below the deck of an overcrowded boat. 

The vessel was carrying around 400 people when it was intercepted south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. 

Footage of the rescue showed two navy vessels helping men, women and children off the dangerously overcrowded ship.

The boat was ‘starting to sink’ when it was spotted by an Italian navy helicopter, around 21 miles off the Libyan coast.


The number of migrants who have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year is approaching a quarter of a million, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than 1,000 migrants are being rescued from the sea off the coasts of Italy and Greece a day this summer and the number of arrivals has already surpassed the 2014 total. 

Deaths at sea are also at record levels this year - at least 2,300 people are believed to have died.

The Channel of Sicily is now the deadliest route for those fleeing violence, natural disasters and abject poverty. Despite the dangers, some 102,000 migrants crossed the Channel of Sicily from Libya to reach safety in Italy so far this year.

With rescues proceeding daily, IOM forecasts total migrant arrivals will surpass 250,000 by the end of this month.  

Eritrea remains the leading country of origin, with 25,567 migrants arriving in Italy from Libya in 2015. 

Nigeria is a distant second with 11,899 arrivals. Other important sending countries are Somalia (7,538), Sudan (5,658), Syria (5,495), Gambia (4,837) and Bangladesh (3,692). 

Migrant flows arriving in Europe, and in particular in Italy, continue to be mixed. 

Some people are fleeing wars and persecution, others poverty, famine and land degradation. There are also many vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking and abuse.