Home English News 162 bodies retrieved in Egyptian migrant boat tragedy

162 bodies retrieved in Egyptian migrant boat tragedy

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Cairo – One hundred and sixty-two bodies have been found after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized off an Egyptian coastal town this week, a provincial official said on Friday.

Eighteen more bodies were retrieved Friday afternoon, bringing the number of victims to 162, the governor of the Delta Beheira province, Mohamed Sultan, said.

A total of 164 people have been rescued since the boat sank on Wednesday off Beheira’s town of Rosetta, Sultan said, according to privately owned newspaper al-Masri al-Youm.

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People wait Thursday as search and rescue operations by the Egyptian Coast Guard works at the site of a boat full of migrants that capsized earlier in the week. The death toll in the sinking rose to 148, a provincial official said Friday. (Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire)

He did not provide a breakdown of the survivors’ nationalities. State-run newspaper al-Ahram said online that those rescued were 121 Egyptians, including four crew members, and 43 foreign migrants.

There are many children and women among the victims, al-Ahram reported. Search operations were ongoing on Friday but no further survivors were reported found that day.

On Thursday, Egyptian authorities jailed the four crew members pending an inquiry into the accident, among the deadliest of its kind in recent years.

Reports gave conflicting figures for the exact number of people who were on board the boat when it sank early Wednesday. Al-Ahram gave an estimate of 400, while private newspaper al-Shorouk said the vessel was carrying at least 300 people.

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