Des sauveteurs recherchent des victimes et survivants au large de Tartous, dans le sud de la Syrie, le 22 septembre 2022.

Syria: 73 dead in the sinking of a migrant boat from Lebanon

Rescuers search for victims and survivors off Tartous, southern Syria, September 22, 2022. (©AFP/-)

At least 73 migrants drowned off the coast of Syria after their boat from Lebanon sank, the Syrian Ministry of Health said on Friday, September 23, 2022, speaking on this shipwreck, the deadliest in recent years. from Lebanon.

This country is increasingly becoming a starting point for illegal migrant boats since the outbreak in 2019 of a serious economic and financial crisis caused by decades of mismanagement and corruption of a ruling class almost unchanged for decades. .

Survivors still wanted

About 150 people, mostly Lebanese and Syrians, were on board the small boat that sank off the western Syrian port city of Tartous on Thursday.

“The number of victims of the sinking of the boat has risen to 73, while 20 people are being treated at Al-Basel Hospital (in Tartous),” Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabach said in a statement.

Among those rescued were five Lebanese, Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hamie told AFP earlier.

Efforts to find possible survivors of Thursday’s sinking are still ongoing, Hamie added: “I am discussing with the Syrian transport minister a mechanism to recover the bodies in Syria.”

“We are dealing with one of our biggest rescue operations,” an official from the Syrian Ministry of Transport, Sleiman Khalil, told AFP.

“We cover a large area that stretches along the entire Syrian coast,” he added, saying high waves were complicating rescue operations.

perilous crossing

Many Lebanese passengers on the boat are from poor areas in the north of the country, including the city of Tripoli, among the poorest in Lebanon. It has become a hub for illegal immigration, with most migrant boats departing from its shores.

Among the survivors, Wissam al-Talawi, a father living in Tripoli and originally from Akkar, another poor region in northern Lebanon, was hospitalized, his brother Ahmad told AFP.

The bodies of his two daughters, aged five and nine, were flown back to Lebanon and buried on Friday, Ahmad said. Mr. Talawi’s wife and two sons are still missing.

“They left two days ago,” Ahmad revealed: my brother “couldn’t cover his daily expenses, nor his children’s school fees”.

Other relatives of the missing told AFP that they had gone to the Lebanese-Syrian border to obtain information on the fate of the migrants.

A woman holds a photo of her son, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, September 23, 2022.
A woman holds a photo of her son, in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, September 23, 2022. (©AFP/Fathi AL-MASRI)

More and more flows

Following the economic collapse in Lebanon, Syrian and Palestinian refugees, as well as Lebanese, tried to cross the Mediterranean in makeshift boats to reach European countries, including the island of Cyprus, located 175 kilometers from the Lebanese coast.

In April, the sinking of an overloaded migrant boat, chased by the Lebanese navy off Tripoli (north), had left dozens dead and provoked great anger in the country in crisis.

On September 13, the Turkish Coast Guard announced the death of six migrants, including two babies, and rescued 73 people who were trying to reach Europe, off the province of Mugla, in southwestern Turkey. These migrants would have embarked from the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

According to the UN, at least 38 boats carrying more than 1,500 people have illegally left or attempted to leave Lebanon by sea since 2020.

Source : © 2022 AFP

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