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Death toll goes up to 51 in Egypt boat capsize

The UN refugee agency said 2016 is on?track to be "the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea" with the increasing fatality rate. Photograph: (AFP)

Cairo, Egypt Sep 21, 2016, 01.14 PM (IST)

More than dozen people have been rescued after a boat carrying migrants capsized near the Egypt coast on Thursday.

Survivors said more around 450 migrants were on board the ship when the incident occurred 12 km off Egypt's coast.

People who were present on the boat fear hundreds of people may have died in the tragedy, BBC reported.

Survivors said up to 450 migrants had been aboard the fishing vessel when it sank off the coast of Rosetta, an Egyptian Mediterranean port city.

The military has said 163 survivors have been rescued so far, with a health ministry official saying 51 bodies had been retrieved.

Meanwhile, Egyptian prosecutors sent four men to custody on Thursday over suspicion of people trafficking, AFP reported. 

The four suspects are accused of involuntary manslaughter and human trafficking, the officials said.

At least 43 people have died after a boat carrying 600 migrants capsized off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday, Reuters reported today.

The officials had earlier said that 31 people — 20 men, 10 women and one child — had drowned.  

The boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Burg Rashid, a village in the northern Beheira province, prompting a search operation that rescued 154 people.

Health ministry official, Adel Khalifa, confirmed the toll and said the dead included Egyptians, Eritreans, Sudanese and Syrians.

"Initial information indicates that the boat sank because it was carrying more people than its limit. The boat tilted and the migrants fell into the water," a senior security official in Beheira told Reuters.

Search teams were looking for more survivors from the incident which took place off the Mediterranean port city of Rosetta, two police officials said. It was not clear where the boat was headed.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail assured all resources possible would be directed into the rescue mission and that those responsible had to be brought to justice.

“The North Africa-Italy route is dramatically more dangerous: 2,119 of the deaths reported so far this year are among people making this journey, making for odds of dying as high as one in 23," said UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler.

Arrivals began falling after the deal between the European Union and Turkey on curbing migrant flows across the Mediterranean.

Despite the lower numbers attempting the perilous maritime journey, the fatality rates had risen in 20016. The year is on track to be "the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea," said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

(WION with inputs from Agencies)




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