Death toll of capsized boat reaches 43, suspects arrested

Thursday 22-09-2016 05:59 PM

People gathering near the coast where the boat capsized on Sept. 21, 2016 - Reuters

CAIRO, Sept 22 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt arrested on Thursday four people suspected of human trafficking after a boat carrying 600 migrants capsized of its coast and left at least 43 people dead, and hundreds more missing.

The boat, which was heading to Italy when it was capsized on Wednesday, represented "the largest illegal migration operation through the Kafr El-Sheikh coasts so far," a local official told the state-owned news agency, MENA.

A judicial source in the Prosecution office told Aswat Masriya that the four suspects are the boat owners, and are charged with human trafficking, murder, and causing injury to others.

Egypt’s border authorities arrested 154 people aboard the ill-fated boat, seven of whom were wounded and thus transferred to a hospital, a security source told Aswat Masriya. This means that approximately 400 people remain missing.

An investigative team in Damanhour is currently listening to the testimonies of tens of people that have been rescued, the judicial source said.

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that a draft law to combat illegal migration has been sent to parliament for discussion in the next legislative term that is set to start early October, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

The draft sets harsher punishment for those involved in illegal migration attempts.

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 illegally. Earlier in September, Egypt foiled an illegal migration attempt to Europe by 155 people. 

In late August, Egyptian border guard forces thwarted migration attempts by 366 people, according to the Egyptian armed forces spokesperson’s announcements.

In April, more than 400 migrants, mostly Somalis, drowned in the Mediterranean as after a boat capsized off the Egyptian coast as they attempted to flee to Europe.

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