Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Migrant boat capsizes, killing at least 29

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM


A boat carrying African migrants headed to Europe capsized off the Mediterranean coast near the Egyptian city of Alexandria yesterday, killing at least 29 people, Egyptian authorities said.

Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said that the total number of dead was still unknown. Local official Alaa Osman from Beheira province said the migrants were from several African countries. He said 155 people have been rescued so far, but that bodies are still being pulled from the water.

Egypt's official news agency MENA said the boat was carrying 600 people when it sank near the coast, some 112 miles north of the capital, Cairo. Osman said the boat had likely come from Kafr el-Sheik province, further to the east.

Thousands of illegal migrants have made the dangerous

sea voyage across the Mediterranean in recent years fleeing war and poverty, mostly via lawless Libya. Thousands have drowned.

The number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Europe has increased significantly in the past year, EU border agency Frontex said earlier this month. More than 12,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Egypt between January and September, compared to 7,000 in the same period last year.

New and more dangerous smuggling practices and attempts to reach Europe by riskier routes have led to a spike in the number of migrants dying as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration said in a report last month.

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in transit in Greece - just across the Mediterranean from Egypt - and those who arrived after March 20 have been restricted to five Aegean islands under an EU-brokered deal to deport them back to Turkey. The agreement has been fraught with delays, however, and most of the people in island camps have applied for asylum in Greece, launching a lengthy process during which they cannot be deported.