The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed sadness at the loss of over 150 lives in a boat disaster in the Mediterranean off the coast of Rosetta, Egypt.
“UNHCR is deeply saddened by the loss of life after yet another boat capsized in the Mediterranean, this time off the coast of Rosetta, Egypt, reportedly carrying around 450 people,” the Refugee Agency said in a statement.
A fishing boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized leading to the death of 153 migrants according to Egyptian authorities.
“The death toll is 153,” the ministry said in a statement. A ministry official, Axel Caliphate had previously announced that 53 bodies were recovered on Friday at noon.
The current figure is an upward revision of the earlier number of 42 reported on Thursday evening.
“At least 42 bodies have reportedly been recovered. Currently 150 people (of whom 43 were non-Egyptians, including 26 Sudanese, 13 Eritreans, 2 Somalis, 1 Syrian, and 1 Ethiopian) have been rescued in an operation by the Egyptian authorities involving the army and navy,” a UN statement read.
The survivors say that nearly 450 people were aboard the boat when it capsized on Wednesday. The authorities indicated that the search is now focused on the boat’s hold where witnesses said at least 100 people were held at the time of the sinking.
The army said 163 people have been rescued.
The majority of survivors were Egyptian, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Four Egyptians suspected smugglers were arrested on suspicion of “human trafficking” and “manslaughter”, according to authorities.
In June, the European agency Frontex border control had said it was worried about the growing number of migrants trying to reach Europe, usually Italy or Greece, initiating the very dangerous journey from the Egypt.
More than 300,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean this year to reach Europe and about 3,500 people are dead or missing, according to the UN.
“With this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year for the Mediterranean”, the UNHCR spokesperson, William Spindler, said in Geneva earlier this week.
Since 2014, more than 10,000 people are dead or missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean according to the UN.