Beirut, Apr 24 (EFE).- At least nine people died when a barge with 60 migrants on board sank off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, military sources told Efe on Sunday.
“We still don’t know the total number because it is illegal immigration, but what we know so far is that we have saved 48 people and found 9 bodies, including a girl,” a military source told Efe on condition of anonymity.
The vessel carrying some 60 people out of Lebanon had set sail Saturday from the al-Qalamoun area, south of Tripoli, according to Lebanese authorities.
The preliminary investigations indicate that the barge sank because it “was overloaded” and there was a leak in the boat due to the strong swell, the Lebanese military said in a statement on Sunday.
“Investigations under the supervision of the competent judiciary” have got underway for accountability, the statement said. “A person with the initials R.A. was arrested for being involved in the human trafficking operation.”
In recent years, the Lebanese authorities have tightened migration policy and intercepted boats that try to leave for Cyprus.
Since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, Lebanon has been one of the points of departure for Syrians trying to reach Europe. EFE