The Libyan air force has located 48 more of the missing migrants lost in the desert near to the Egypt-Libya border, according to AFP.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced earlier this week that at least 72 Egyptians had been reported missing in the desert. The missing migrants were thought to have entered Libya illegally in two separate groups of 12 and 60. It is thought that they were abandoned by smugglers after they crossed the border, according to AFP.
The 48 located on Friday by the Libyan air force could mean that all 72 are now accounted for. The spokesman for the ministry said that the ministry is still confirming the details with the Libyan authorities. The spokesman added that it is thought that African migrants are among those that have been found.
Out of the group of 60, two Egyptian citizens were found to have died of thirst on Monday evening along with the cousin of one of the deceased. The ministry announced that nine more people had been located by a group of Libyan hunters on Thursday evening.
Of the group of 12, three were injured and are receiving treatment following the explosion of a landmine, resulting in the amputation of the right leg of one of the three. The remaining nine in this group were located in the city of Adjabiya.
The Libyan authorities conducted multiple helicopter searches of a 450km2 area over the last week to locate the migrants, said the ministry.
Earlier in October dozens of Egyptian drivers were abducted near Ajdabiya, and were later freed following a joint effort by the Libyan and Egyptian authorities. A Libyan militia chief claimed to have abducted the drivers.
Egyptians have continued to illegally cross into Libya despite warnings from both governments advising them to obtain the correct documentation before travelling.
In April, a foreign ministry official said over 4,000 Egyptians entered Libya illegally this year. Egyptian fishermen also violate Libya’s waters for fishing purposes, due to the shortage of fish in Egyptian waters. In March, over 250 Egyptians were deported by Libyan authorities in a crackdown on illegal migrants.
Also in April, Egypt and Libya signed a military cooperation agreement, which included steps to tackle border security issues.