A boat reportedly carrying 600 migrants capsized off Egyptian coast near the village of Burg Rashid on Wednesday. One hundred and fifty-four people have been rescued, with 43 confirmed dead and about 400 still missing.
The boat had been carrying Egyptian, Eritrean, Somali and Sudanese migrants, according to local officials. Overload is believed to be the cause of the tragedy.
“Initial information indicates that the boat sank because it was carrying more people than its limit. The boat tilted and the migrants fell into the water,” Reuters quotes a senior security official in Beheira as saying.
It’s not entirely clear where the boat was heading, Egyptian officials assume it was on its way to Italy.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that all possible resources would be allocated to the search and rescue mission. He promised to bring to justice those involved in human trafficking.
More and more people have been trying to cross Mediterranean Sea this year. Some 300,000 migrants managed to get to Europe crossing the sea, while 3,211 drowned, according to statistics by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The main people flow operates through Libya, where human traffickers operate largely unpunished, but some sail from Egypt.
Some 320 migrants drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June. According to survivors of the wreck, their boat originated from Egypt.
While the overall refugee numbers have been decreasing during the past several months in comparison to 2015, the death toll has remained alarmingly high. In May this year, some 700 migrants and refugees have died in several separate shipwrecks in just several days.
Some experts assume that up to 10,000 migrants may die till the end of the year on their journey to Europe. Last year, the largest numbers of refugees and migrants arrived during the autumn and winter seasons.