Twenty people found dead in Libyan desert

Bodies found about two weeks after group died, presumably due to thirst.

Recovered bodies of migrants lie in bags in the area between Kufra city and Chadian border with Libya [Reuters]

The bodies of 20 people who got lost in the Libyan desert have been found, according to rescuers, who presume the group died of thirst.

The bodies were discovered by a truck driver travelling through the desert and were recovered on Tuesday about 320 kilometres (198 miles) southwest of Kufra and 120km (74 miles) from the border with Chad.

“The driver got lost … and we believe the group died in the desert about 14 days ago since the last call on a mobile phone there was on June 13,” Kufra ambulance chief Ibrahim Belhasan said by phone on Wednesday.

The sparsely populated region regularly sees summer temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

The ambulance service published a video on Facebook showing decomposing bodies in the desert sand near a pick-up truck.

Two of the bodies were Libyans and the others were believed to be migrants from Chad crossing into Libya, Belhasan said.

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that removed and killed longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for people fleeing war and poverty in Africa and parts of the Middle East, hoping for a better life in Europe via the dangerous route across the desert and over the Mediterranean.

But many die en route, including in the harsh Sahara desert.

According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 1,500 refugees have drowned in numerous boat mishaps and shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean route last year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies