Libyan authorities have found the decomposed bodies of 93 African immigrants who were stranded and died of thirst in the Sahara desert, a Libyan Interior Ministry statement said.
The state news agency Jana quoted ministry officials in the southern Murzuq region as saying the immigrants entered Libya from Niger at Toummo, crammed inside a lorry which took a desert track to avoid border controls and broke down.
A statement from Niger's foreign affairs ministry said 61 of its nationals were among the victims. Another four had survived.
"Only three people could be identified as they were carrying identity papers," the statement released in Niamey said.
Sources close to the paramilitary gendarmerie in the town of Agadez in Niger said the lorry was thought to have left Agadez, 900 km (560 miles) north of Niamey, in April carrying around 100 people, including nationals of Chad, Sudan and Nigeria.
The Sudanese lorry driver was found alive, as were a further 25 people, who were taken to hospital. A search was under way for others who may still be lost in the desert, the Libyan statement said.
"The bodies were buried where they were found because they were decomposed," the interior ministry said in the statement on Thursday night.
"According to the Sudanese driver and the other survivors, those on the lorry were from various African countries," the ministry said, adding that "the investigation and the forensic scientist confirmed that they died of thirst".
Thousands of poor people from sub-Saharan countries flock to oil-rich Libya each year in search of work and a better life.
Libyan officials estimate that more than one million African foreign workers live in the North African country – TUNIS (Reuters)
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