Egyptian naval forces stopped an illegal immigration attempt in October 2015. Handout photo by the Egyptian military
CAIRO, Sept 21 (Aswat Masriya) - The bodies of 29 people were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea after a boat capsized off the coast of Egypt, health ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The corpses were pulled from the water near Egypt’s coastal city of Kafr El Sheikh, about 134 km north of Cairo. According to news reports, rescue workers have saved over 100 people so far.
The boat was carrying around 600 people, which represented "the largest illegal migration operation through the Kafr El-Sheikh coasts so far," state news agency MENA quoted a local official as saying. It was carrying Egyptian, Syrian and African migrants, security sources told the Reuters news agency.
They are believed to have been heading to Italy, a main destination for illegal migrants across the Mediterranean.
Egyptian authorities have announced thwarting several illegal migration attempts in the past few months, as hundreds have been arrested for attempting to exit the country irregularly. Earlier in September, Egypt foiled an illegal migration attempt to Europe by 155 people.
Illegal migration to Europe has largely increased in recent years, as conflicts and dire economic conditions in the Middle East and African countries pushed millions of migrants and refugees to cross over to Europe to flee poverty and war.
The incident took place few hours after world leaders met for the Leaders' Summit on Refugees, which saw US President Barack Obama call the refugee crisis as "one of the urgent tests of our time".