The Minister of Health of Syria said on Friday that at least 73 migrants perished after a boat they boarded in Lebanon fell off the coast of Syria. This is the worst such disaster to originate from Lebanon in recent years.
As of 2019, Lebanon has been mired in a financial crisis that has been labelled by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern times. As a result, Lebanon has become a launchpad for illegal migration, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamouring to leave the country. The World Bank has branded this crisis as one of the worst in modern times.
On board the tiny boat that capsized on Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Syrian city of Tartus were around 150 individuals, the most of whom were Syrians and Lebanese.
Syria’s Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash announced in a statement that the number of dead from the shipwreck had reached 73 individuals. He added that there were 20 survivors who were being treated in a hospital in Tartus.
According to Lebanon’s temporary transport minister Ali Hamie, who spoke to AFP, five of the people that were rescued were from Lebanon.
According to what Hamie stated, “I am now exploring a process to remove the dead from Syria with Syria’s transport minister.”
The port city of Tartus is the most southern of Syria’s principal ports. It is located about 50 kilometres (about 30 miles) north of the port city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, which is where the passengers had boarded the ship.
According to an official from Syria’s Ministry of Transport named Sleiman Khalil, who spoke with AFP, “We are dealing with one of our biggest ever rescue missions.”
The heavy waves made their job difficult, and they were covering a big region that extended down the whole coast of Syria, he continued.
A significant number of the boat’s passengers are Lebanese, and the majority of them are from economically disadvantaged areas in the country’s north, notably Lebanon’s most destitute city, Tripoli.
The majority of boats carrying migrants leave from the coastline of Tripoli, which has led to the city’s emergence as a centre for illegal immigration.
Wissam al-Talawi, a resident of Tripoli who is originally from the Akkar area in the north, was one of the survivors and is now being treated at a hospital, according to his brother Ahmad, who spoke to AFP.
Ahmad said that the bodies of Wissam’s two children, aged five and nine at the time of their deaths, had been brought back to Lebanon and that they had been buried early on Friday.
He continued by saying, “They departed two days ago.”
“(My brother) couldn’t afford his daily costs or the cost of putting his children in school,” he continued, claiming that Wissam’s wife and two boys had not been located yet. Wissam was his older brother.
AFP was informed by other families that they had travelled to the border of Syria in order to check on their family.
A significant increase in the number of migrants utilising the coasts of Lebanon in an effort to make the hazardous journey to Europe in overloaded boats occurred in the previous year.
The sinking of an overloaded migrant boat in April, which occurred off the northern coast of Tripoli and was chased by the Lebanese navy, resulted in the deaths of scores of people and sparked indignation across the country.
Some of the people on board the vessel said that their vessel was slammed by the navy, while the authorities stated that the smugglers tried dangerous escape tactics. The details surrounding the event were not totally apparent.
The corpses of several of the victims were never found.
Off the coast of the southwestern province of aft in Turkey, the Turkish coastguard reported on September 13 that six migrants, including two newborns, had perished while attempting to reach Europe, and that they had rescued 73 persons making the journey.
It was alleged that they embarked in Tripoli, which is located in Lebanon, in an effort to go to Italy.
The majority of boats leaving Lebanon are bound towards Cyprus, which is a member state of the European Union and is located 175 kilometres (110 miles) to the west of Lebanon.