DNA tests on 5 bod­ies washed up on shores of Le­banon

Arab News - - Front Page - Na­jia Hous­sari

DNA tests were on Thurs­day be­ing car­ried out on five bod­ies washed up on Le­banon’s north­ern coast. Ex­am­i­na­tions were ex­pected to re­veal if the dead were among the lat­est vic­tims of a mi­grant boat tragedy or some of the nine peo­ple still miss­ing fol­low­ing the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast.

The bod­ies of two chil­dren from an il­le­gal boat full of peo­ple flee­ing Le­banon for Cyprus were among those re­cently swept ashore.

The ves­sel, ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a max­i­mum of 30 pas­sen­gers, had set out for Cyprus from Al-Burj beach on Sept. 7 with 50 in­di­vid­u­als on board, most of them Le­banese from im­pov­er­ished neigh­bor­hoods in Tripoli along with two Syr­ian fam­i­lies.

A 20-month-old boy re­port­edly died in his mother’s arms be­fore his fa­ther put his body into the sea.

Af­ter sail­ing for two hours, the boat’s il­le­gal han­dler aban­doned the pas­sen­gers tak­ing with him their be­long­ings in­clud­ing food, drinks, and mo­bile phones. The boat drifted in the Mediter­ranean for five days and a num­ber of bod­ies have since been found on the Le­banese coast. A 20-month-old boy re­port­edly died in his mother’s arms be­fore his fa­ther put his body into the sea. Oth­ers van­ished af­ter at­tempt­ing to swim to safety al­though the UNIFIL Mar­itime Task Force pulled one young man alive from the water and was able to res­cue those who had stayed on board. On Thurs­day, a se­cu­rity meet­ing chaired by Le­banese Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun dis­cussed an in­crease in il­le­gal at­tempts to help peo­ple flee Le­banon by boat.

Aoun called for “com­bat­ing the net­works that or­ga­nize this type of trans­port across the sea, which is against the law, and tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures in this re­gard.”

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