At least 73 dead after Lebanese migrant boat sinks off Syria coast
At least 73 people have drowned while 20 others were rescued after a small boat they boarded in Lebanon sank off Syria’s coast, according to Syrian and Lebanese officials.
According to reports, Syrian Health Minister Mohammed Hassan Ghabbash said that 73 people had died and 20 had been rescued alive in the Thursday incident.
The Health Ministry said that “Oxygen assistance has been provided to most of the hospitalized people and some of them have been transferred to intensive care.”
Tartus is a port in southern Syria and is just 50 km north of Lebanon’s Tripoli where the passengers had reportedly boarded.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s caretaker Transport Minister Ali Hamie said that more than 100 people were on board when the boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday. According to estimations of Syrian officials, some 150 passengers were on board. Most of the passengers have been reportedly Lebanese and Syrians.
Hamie confirmed that five of the rescued were Lebanese, adding, “I am discussing with Syria’s transport minister a mechanism to retrieve the bodies from Syria.”
The head of Syrian ports Samer Kbrasli said that rescue teams were dispatched to find survivors on Thursday, however, the search was interrupted due to strong waves in the evening.
Meanwhile, Sleiman Khalil, an official with Syria’s transport ministry said this is “one of our largest ever rescue operations” as they should cover a large area that extends along the entire Syrian coast.
Iran condoles with Lebanon, Syria on tragic incident
In an Arabic post on his Twitter account, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kan'ani issued a statement of condolence to the nations and governments of Lebanon and Syria.
This was the second shipwreck of this type in the region as at least six people died and 48 people were rescued in a similar incident in April. That boat was carrying about 60 migrants and sank off the coast of Lebanon.
The latest incident stoked public anger in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city and one of its poorest.