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Hundreds Feared Dead As Egypt Migrant Boat Capsize


Survivors from a boat which capsized off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday have told the BBC that hundreds of people may have drowned.

The boat was carrying between 450 and 600 migrants when it capsized eight miles (12km) off the coast, they say. The numbers have not been confirmed.

Authorities say they have rescued 163 people and recovered 51 bodies so far off the port city of Rosetta.

Four crew members have been arrested, Egyptian officials said.

They are suspected of involuntary manslaughter and human trafficking, judicial officials were reported as saying.

The incident came after the EU’s border agency warned that increasing numbers of Europe-bound migrants are using Egypt as a departure point.

Authorities have been accused of failing to send help fast enough.

“Anyone who was saved here, was saved by the local fishing boats,” fisherman Abdelrahman Al-Mohamady told the Reuters news agency.

The International Organization for Migration said those rescued included 111 Egyptians, 26 Sudanese, 13 Eritreans, a Syrian and an Ethiopian.

Many survivors are now being held in police custody.

Rescuers are focusing their efforts on the boat’s cold storage room, where it is believed around 100 people took refuge during the capsize.

There is still uncertainty over the exact number of migrants who were on board the vessel before it capsized, with estimates between 450 and 600.

The number of deaths is expected to rise.

Some teenage Egyptian survivors, huddled together in the basement of a police station, told the BBC they were trying to reach Italy to find work.

The Egypt office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) say high birth rates and few job opportunities are pushing young Egyptians into taking the risk of a dangerous sea voyage.

Authorities say Egyptians in police custody will soon be released but foreign nationals will be held for a few days for questioning as to how they entered the country.


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