UPDATE: Six dead after migrant ship sinks off Lebanon coast


Published: 2022-04-24 12:03

Last Updated: 2024-04-20 07:50

Credit: AFP
Credit: AFP

Six migrants, including a child, died after a boat sank off the coast of Lebanon, where the army was still looking for survivors after rescuing about fifty people.

Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamie told a local broadcaster that around 60 people were on the vessel carrying illegal migrants out of Lebanon.

"The search is ongoing," Hamie said.

The Lebanese Red Cross said it had sent 10 ambulances to Tripoli.

An AFP correspondent said the army had closed off the port, allowing entry only to ambulances which were zipping in and out.

The families of some of the passengers gathered to check on their loves ones but they were denied access.

"This happened because of the politicians who forced unemployed Lebanese to leave the country," said one man waiting for news of a relative outside the port.

Lebanon, a country of around six million people, is grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis that the World Bank says is on a scale usually associated with wars.

The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its purchasing power and the majority of the population lives below the poverty line.

The UN refugee agency says at least 1,570 people, 186 of them Lebanese, left or tried to leave illegally by sea from Lebanon between January and November 2021.

Most were hoping to reach European Union member Cyprus, an island 175 kilometers (110 miles) away.

This is up from 270 passengers, including 40 Lebanese, in 2019.

Most of those trying to leave Lebanon by sea are Syrian refugees, but Lebanese have increasingly joined their ranks.