147 African immigrants have drowned after their inflatable boat capsized off Libya’s western shores on Thursday, Libyan Coast Guard has reported.

The Coast Guard said the victims included 77 men, 55 women and 15 children.

“23 immigrants were rescued and provided with medical care,” it added. The tragedy happened 17 miles off Tripoli coast.

The boat was reported missing early in the day.

Human smuggling has become a flourishing business in Libya due to the political and security chaos ongoing in the country.

Early this month, Libyan Coast Guard exchanged fire with human smugglers at sea, killing four and arresting two others.

Libyan Coast Guard photo