Mi­grant boat capsizes off Egypt, killing at least 42

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Cairo

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.

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