Lebanon rescue teams search for migrant boat disaster survivors

TRIPOLI, LEBANON (AFP) – Lebanese rescue teams searched the Mediterranean for survivors on Monday (April 25) after an overloaded people-smuggling boat capsized whereas below pursuit by naval forces, with dozens unaccounted for nonetheless lacking at sea.

At least seven individuals died on account of the disaster, which occurred late on Saturday and ignited widespread rage simply three weeks earlier than May 15 parliamentary elections.

The physique of a lady was retrieved from the water on Monday morning, bringing to seven the variety of confirmed deaths in Lebanon’s worst such disaster in years.

“The body of a woman from the Al-Nimr family was recovered today from the Tripoli beach,” the director-general of Tripoli Port, Mr Ahmed Tamer, informed AFP, including that rescue efforts had been ongoing.

The Lebanese military stated on Sunday that 48 individuals had been rescued, but it surely was not instantly clear precisely what number of would-be asylum seekers had been crammed onto the boat when it set sail.

The United Nations refugee company (UNHCR) stated the boat was carrying no less than 84 individuals when it capsized, about three nautical miles off the coast of Tripoli.

According to UNHCR figures, meaning probably some 30 individuals are nonetheless unaccounted for.

The passengers included Syrian and Palestinian refugees, however most had been Lebanese, the military stated.

The circumstances that led the small overloaded craft to sink weren’t completely clear, with some survivors claiming the navy rammed into their boat, and officers insisting the smuggler tried reckless escape manoeuvres.

Lebanon was as soon as a transit level for asylum-seekers from elsewhere within the area who had been hoping to achieve the shores of European Union member Cyprus by sea, an island 175 kilometres away.

However, an unprecedented financial disaster that has precipitated hyper-inflation and plunged thousands and thousands into poverty is driving rising numbers of Lebanese to aim the perilous crossing.

The UN says greater than 1,500 would-be asylum seekers have tried to depart Lebanon illegally by sea because the begin of 2021.

“Lebanon’s economic crisis has triggered one of the largest waves of migration in the country’s history,” stated Mr Mathieu Luciano, Lebanon head of the International Organisation for Migration.

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