A wooden boat with around 170 African migrants on board trying to reach Europe has sunk off the Libyan coast, a spokesman for the Libyan navy said yesterday.

Migrants have been leaving North Africa in rickety boats for years - so far in 2014 more than 100,000 people have reached Italy.

The boat sank late on Friday near Qarabouli, east of Tripoli, which is often used by traffickers. Coast guard official Mohammad Abdellatif said they had been alerted to the sinking by fishermen at dawn yesterday. Seventeen people have been rescued and a search is under way.

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