More than 80 drown as migrant boat sinks off Syria
Beirut, Sep 23 (EFE).- More than 80 people drowned after a boat carrying over 100 migrants capsized off the Syrian coast, said officials on Friday, in one of the deadliest sea tragedies to have hit the conflict-ravaged region.
The migrant workers boarded the boat in the Lebanese city of Tripoli days ago for the perilous voyage to Europe in search of jobs and better life.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the “deadliest” shipwreck in the region in years killed 81.
Nearly 50 people remained missing, the United Kingdom-based monitor said.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), citing an al-Basel Hospital statement, said 73 people died in the tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea off the Syrian city of Tartus.
Twenty survivors were under treatment at the hospital.
Syrian head of sea ports Samer Kobrosli told the news agency that 31 bodies were found on Friday “on the beaches (and) from the depths of the sea.”
The rescue operations continued on the waters opposite the island of Arwad off the Syrian city of Tartus.
Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hamie told EFE that some survivors told rescuers that the barge carried more than 100 people, and many victims did not have travel documents.
He said the government was in touch with the Syrian authorities.
The Syrian monitor said the victims were Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians.
Citing survivors, the monitor said the board had 150 people on board when it set off from Lebanon.
The Britain-based observatory, citing unnamed sources, said many of the Syrian migrants onboard the ship had sold their properties to reach Europe.
It was one of the deadliest shipwrecks since Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians began fleeing crisis-hit Lebanon for Europe.
A boat carrying people desperate to flee the Lebanese economic crisis sank on Apr.23, drowning 11.
But the number of people traveling on that boat was never known, even though the searchers rescued at least 45.
Almost 80 percent of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line.
Some 90 percent of the Syrian refugee community in the country is impoverished, UN data showed.
In recent years, the Lebanese authorities have tightened migration policy and intercepted boats that try to leave for Cyprus.
According to the UN, Lebanon has been witnessing an increase in sea departures since 2020, when 38 boats with more than 1,500 passengers attempted dangerous onward journeys.