162 dead in Egyptian boat tragedy

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Migrant boat
Migrant boat               Photo: aljazeera

One hundred and forty-eight bodies have been recovered after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized off an Egyptian coastal town, a provincial official said on Friday.

Rescuers on Friday pulled out of the Mediterranean waters more than 90 bodies, bringing the number of dead so far to 148, spokesman for the Delta province of Beheira, Wahdan el-Sayed, told state television.

He added that search operations were under way off Beheira’s town of Rosetta, where the boat capsized on Wednesday.

The bodies retrieved on Friday were those of Egyptians, other Arab nationals and Africans, private newspaper al-Masri al-Youm reported online.

Fifty-seven other bodies were recovered in the past two days.

Reports gave conflicting figures for the exact number of people on board.

State-run newspaper al-Ahram gave an estimate of 400, while private newspaper al-Shorouk said the vessel was carrying at least 300 people.

Authorities succeeded in rescuing 163 people, including 123 Egyptians, from the accident, state television said on Thursday. No further survivors have since been reported.

One survivor said there were more than 500 people on board the boat when it sank.

“The boat flipped over and sank shortly after the start of the journey,” Ahmed Darwish, told al-Masri al-Youm.

The 25-year-old Egyptian said he was rescued after swimming for around nine hours.

“Hard circumstances of life and my failure to get a job prompted me to go on the journey,” he told the newspaper.

Among those on board were people from Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, al-Shorouk reported.

Initial investigations found that the boat had been filled beyond capacity, Egyptian media reported.

In recent years, Egypt has seen an increase in migrants trying to travel across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Regional turmoil and high unemployment rates are believed to be the main driving factors behind the risky journeys.(dpa/NAN)


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