Ambulances enter Syrian territory to repatriate bodies of drowned migrants Ambulances enter Syrian territory to repatriate bodies of drowned migrants 

Migrant sea tragedy claims over 70 people off Syrian coast

Syrian authorities have recovered the bodies of at least 70 people who were aboard a migrant boat that sank off the coast of Tartus after sailing from Lebanon.

By Nathan Morley

As of Friday, search efforts are continuing in the Mediterranean for possible survivors after a migrant boat sank, killing dozens of people.

According to Lebanese minister Ali Hamiye, 20 survivors are being treated in Syrian hospitals.

Authorities have no indication how the boat sank, but the region has had high winds in recent days with the onset of autumn.

Syrian marine patrols began finding bodies off the coast of Tartus on Thursday lunchtime. Survivors say the boat left from north Lebanon northern on Tuesday with between 120 and 150 passengers onboard, bound for Europe.

Economic crisis

The outflow in such desperate circumstances is not surprising.

In the last few years, Lebanon has been engulfed in a brutal economic crisis, with nearly 80 percent of the population struggling to pay for food and medicine.

The political and economic crisis has had a devastating effect on the Mediterranean nation.

Inflation has soared and electric cuts are common, as the country remains desperately short of fuel. Some are experiencing long power cuts, whilst hospitals have cut back crucial services and drivers queue for hours for gasoline.

In addition to Lebanese citizens taking to rickety and dangerous boats, Syrian and Palestinian refugees are also amongst those trying to leave by sea.

Rescue efforts continuing

Speaking earlier on Friday, the Syrian director-general of ports said rescue efforts were continuing.

The number of people who have fled or tried to leave Lebanon by sea nearly doubled in 2021 from 2020.

Elsewhere, the Lebanese army said on Wednesday it had rescued 55 people on board one malfunctioning boat in the country’s territorial waters and towed it back to port.

On Tuesday, Cypriot rescuers saved 477 migrants in two separate operations in harsh sea conditions. The migrants told the authorities that they had sailed from Lebanon and headed for Italy.

Listen to our report
23 September 2022, 17:09