At least 53 migrants have drowned off the coast of Syria after a boat sank from Lebanon, Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hamie said on Friday in a new report.
More than 100 people, mostly Lebanese and Syrians, were on board the small boat that sank off the port city of Tartous in northwestern Syria on Thursday, the minister told AFP .
“Fifty-three people died and 19 were rescued, including five Lebanese,” he said.
Syrian authorities said 120 to 150 people were on board the boat before the sinking.
“I am discussing with the Syrian transport minister a mechanism to recover the bodies in Syria,” Hamie told AFP, adding that rescue efforts are still ongoing.
This is the highest death toll from the aftermath of a shipwreck of migrants from Lebanon, which is increasingly becoming a departure point for illegal migrant boats.
According to the World Bank, Lebanon has been going through one of the worst global economic crises since 1850 since 2019, caused by decades of mismanagement and corruption by a ruling class that has remained virtually unchanged for decades.
In April, the sinking of an overloaded migrant boat, chased by the Lebanese navy off Tripoli (north) had left dozens dead and caused great anger in the country in crisis.
The circumstances of the incident were unclear, with some on board accusing the Lebanese army of ramming their ship, while officials insisted the smugglers were irresponsible.
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.
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