Thursday, 22 September 2016

Hundreds dead' off Egypt coast - survivors

The boat was carrying between 450 and 600
migrants when it capsized eight miles (12km) off
the coast, they say. The numbers have not been
confirmed.

Authorities say they have rescued 163 people
and recovered 51 bodies so far off the port city
of Rosetta.
Four crew members have been arrested,
Egyptian officials said.
They are suspected of involuntary manslaughter
and human trafficking, judicial officials were
reported as saying.
The incident came after the EU's border agency
warned that increasing numbers of Europe-bound
migrants are using Egypt as a departure point.
The UN says that more than 10,000 people have
died crossing the Mediterranean towards Europe
since 2014.
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The boat was kept off the coast for five days as
more and more migrants were brought on board,
survivors told the  Orla Guerin in Rosetta.
The boat is said to have capsized after a final
group of some 150 people were crammed on
board.
Authorities have been accused of failing to send
help fast enough.
"Anyone who was saved here, was saved by the
local fishing boats," fisherman Abdelrahman Al-
Mohamady told the Reuters news agency.
The International Organization for Migration said
those rescued included 111 Egyptians, 26
Sudanese, 13 Eritreans, a Syrian and an
Ethiopian.
Many survivors are now being held in police
custody.
Rescuers are focusing their efforts on the boat's
cold storage room, where it is believed around
100 people took refuge during the capsize.
There is still uncertainty over the exact number
of migrants who were on board the vessel before
it capsized, with estimates between 450 and
600.
The number of deaths is expected to rise.
Some teenage Egyptian survivors, huddled
together in the basement of a police station, told
the BBC they were trying to reach Italy to find
work.
The Egypt office of the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) say high birth
rates and few job opportunities are pushing
young Egyptians into taking the risk of a
dangerous sea voyage.
Authorities say Egyptians in police custody will
soon be released but foreign nationals will be
held for a few days for questioning as to how
they entered the country.
Human rights researchers warned last month of
a "devastating" lack of information for families
of migrants thought to have drowned in the
Mediterranean,
IOM figures, released in July, suggest 2016 could
become the worst year to date for migrant
deaths.
It said about 3,000 migrants and refugees had
lost their lives so far this year trying to cross the
Mediterranean.
EU border agency Frontex says more than 12,000
migrants arrived in Italy from Egypt between
January and September, compared with 7,000
over the same period in 2015.
It says Egypt is the "new hotspot" for people
smugglers, with concerns that its population of
about 80 million people may pose a major
problem should it descend into chaos.
Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said that work
was being done to determine whether there was
a link between the drop in numbers departing
from Turkey - where only about 50 people a day
are trying to make the journey to reach Greece
compared to thousands this time last year - and
the increase in numbers from Egypt.
However, officials say Libya still remains the
biggest departure point with flows at around the
same level this year as last year.