73 dead in migrant shipwreck off Syria after leaving Lebanon

DAMASCUS: At least 73 migrants drown when a boat they boarded Lebanon Sink SyriaSyria’s health minister on Friday said Syria’s coast was the deadliest shipwreck in Lebanon in recent years.
Lebanon, which since 2019 has been mired in a financial crisis considered by the World Bank to be one of the worst in modern times, has become a launching pad for a wave of illegal migration. law, with its citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees calling to leave the country.
About 150 people, mostly Lebanese and Syrians, were on board the small boat that sank Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea off the Syrian city of Tartus.
“The number of victims of the shipwreck has reached 73,” Syrian Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash said in a statement, adding that 20 survivors were being treated at a hospital in Tartus. .
Of those rescued, five were Lebanese, Transport Minister Ali Hamie of Lebanon told AFP.
“I am in discussions with the Syrian Minister of Transport about a mechanism to retrieve corpses from Syria,” Hamie said.
Tartus is the southernmost of Syria’s main ports, and is located about 50 kilometers (30 mi) north of the port city of Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, where the passengers boarded.
“We are dealing with one of our biggest rescue operations ever,” Sleiman Khalil, an official at the Syrian transport ministry, told AFP.
“We are covering a large area extending along the entire Syrian coast,” he added, adding that the high waves made their work challenging.
Many of the Lebanese passengers on board came from impoverished areas in the north of the country, including the city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s poorest part.
Tripoli has emerged as a hub for illegal migration, with most migrant boats departing from its shores.
Wissam al-Talawi, a Tripoli resident from the northern region of Akkar, is among the survivors and is being treated in hospital, his brother Ahmad told AFP.
But the bodies of Wissam’s two daughters, aged five and nine, were brought back to Lebanon, where they were buried early Friday, Ahmad said.
“They left two days ago,” he added.
“(My brother) can’t afford the day-to-day or school expenses,” he added, adding that Wissam’s wife and two sons are still missing.
Other relatives told AFP they had gone to Syria’s border to check on their relatives.
Last year, Lebanon saw a spike in the number of migrants using its shores to try to navigate danger in overcrowded boats to reach Europe.
In April, the sinking of an overcrowded migrant boat pursued by the Lebanese navy off the northern coast of Tripoli killed dozens, sparking anger in the country.
The circumstances of that incident are not entirely clear, with some on board claiming that the navy rammed their ship, while officials insist the smugglers had attempted to act as an escape. reckless.
Many of the bodies were never recovered.
On September 13, the Turkish coast guard announced the deaths of six migrants, including two infants, and rescued 73 people trying to reach Europe, off the coast of the western province of Turkey. southwest of this country.
According to reports, they boarded a plane from Tripoli in Lebanon in an attempt to reach Italy.
Most boats departing from Lebanon are headed to European Union member of Cyprus, an island 175 km (110 mi) to the west.

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