Egypt recovers sunken migrant boat, more bodies

The boat capsized off Burg Rashed, a coastal village where the Nile meets the Mediterranean, on Sept. 21.

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Twenty-five bodies were recovered on Tuesday from a boat that sank in Mediterranean waters off Egypt last week with hundreds of migrants aboard, raising the confirmed death toll to 194, rescue workers said.

The boat capsized off Burg Rashed, a coastal village where the Nile meets the Mediterranean, on Sept. 21. Rescue workers and fishermen said they had rescued at least 169 people, but uncertainty remained over how many might still be missing.

The spokesman for the Beheira regional governor said the shipwreck had been hoisted out of the depths and was likely to contain dozens more bodies.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday it believed at least 450 people were aboard the vessel and that about 300 likely perished in all.

"It is one of the worst tragedies of this year, but not the worst," IOM spokesman Joel Millman told a briefing in Geneva.

"We are concerned about what this says for the rest of the season as the weather turns cold and seas get more difficult."

Egyptian security sources initially said there had been almost 600 migrants aboard.

Officials said the boat was carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants, and that they believed it was heading for Italy. Four members of the crew were arrested.

More and more migrants have been trying to cross to Italy from the African coast over the summer months, particularly from Libya, where people-traffickers operate with relative impunity.

But boats have increasingly departed from Egypt of late as Libya has slipped deeper into lawlessness.

The IOM says that more than 3,200 migrants have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, while more than 300,000 have reached European shores. More than 1 million Middle Eastern, African and Asian migrants entered Europe in 2015.

The IOM said the number of migrants to arrive in Europe this year likely would not reach last year's level though the number of fatalities was virtually certain to exceed the 2015 total.

"Despite the drop in arrivals, which is considerable through this year, fatalities have exceeded last year's total at this time by almost 600 and seem virtually certain to surpass what we saw last year, which was a record year," Millman said.

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