Migrant boat capsizes off Egypt, killing at least 42
A boat carrying African migrants headed to Europe capsized off the Mediterranean coast near the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Wednesday, killing at least 42 people, Egyptian authorities said.
The army gave the death toll in a statement, saying it had “thwarted an illegal immigration attempt” and that the boat had been 20 kilometers off the coast when it sank.
Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested four people in connection with the sinking.
Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said that the total number of dead was still unknown. Local official Alaa Osman from Beheira province said the migrants were from several African countries. He saidabout150peoplehavebeen rescued but that bodies are still being pulled from the water.
Egypt’s official news agency MENA said the boat was carrying 600 people when it sank near the coast. Osman said the boat had likely come from Kafr el-Sheik province.
Thousandsof illegalmigrants have made the dangerous sea voyage across the Mediterranean in recent years fleeing war and poverty, mostly via Libya. Thousands have drowned.
The number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Europe has increased significantly in the past year, EU border agency Frontex said earlier this month. More than 12,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Egypt between January and September, compared to 7,000 in the same period last year, it said.
Experts said smugglers in Egyptmostlyuseoldfishingvessels, stuffed way beyond capacity both below and above deck.