8 migrants dead, 86 rescued from sinking boat

ROME (AP) — At least eight migrants died and 86 others were rescued Saturday from a smugglers’ rubber dinghy after it starting sinking in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, the Italian coast guard said. A search was ongoing to find any more possible survivors.

An aid group not involved in the rescue said dozens of migrants still could be missing. The coast guard said there was no confirmation of Libyan authorities’ statement that at least 25 migrants had died.

The Italian coast guard, which coordinates rescues in international waters off Libya’s coast, said an aircraft on patrol for a European anti-smuggling operation had spotted the dinghy, which was in difficulty Saturday morning. Italian navy and coast guard vessels were involved in the rescue.

Coast guard Cmdr. Sergio Liardo told Italian state TV that “it appears the dinghy deflated” after a puncture.

The victims all were female, Liardo said.