At least six migrants have died in a shipwreck

At least six migrants, including a young woman, have drowned in a boat sinking near the town of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. Tensions were high in the city early Sunday evening.

The departure of boats carrying illegal immigrants, Syrians, Lebanese or others has multiplied many times over from Lebanon, which is mired in an unprecedented economic crisis. But dangerous shipwrecks are rare.

The boat, which set off Saturday from the Kalamun area south of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, was carrying about 60 people, officials said. The nationality of the immigrants is not mentioned.

The Lebanese army recovered the bodies of five migrants who drowned on Sunday and the body of a girl on Saturday, bringing the total death toll to six, according to an interim report by the National Information Agency (ANI).

Survivors are needed

So far, 48 people have been rescued, according to the latest official figures, as the Lebanese navy searches for survivors on Sunday evening.

According to ANI, protesters blocked the highway from Tripoli to Akkarai with the help of cars early Sunday morning, while tensions were high in the city’s districts when they heard incessant gunfire.

The boat was only 10 meters long and 3 meters wide, and there were no life jackets on board, Lebanese Navy chief Haisam Dunnoi told a news conference.

Two patrolmen followed to force the heavily loaded boat to return, he added. Unfortunately, the captain (of the boat) decided to maneuver to escape, but he said he attacked the naval vessels and sank quickly.

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“Within five seconds, the boat was under water,” Danav said, adding that life jackets were immediately thrown to passengers.

Earlier, one of the survivors at the port told AFP that the migrant boat had ‘collided twice’ with a patrol vessel, forcing the survivor’s family to turn it over before closing his mouth and asking him to pick him up.

Ahmed Tamar, director of the port of Tripoli, which was closed by the military, said: “The navy is constantly searching for survivors.

Call to demonstration

“This was done by politicians who forced unemployed Lebanese to leave the country,” one of the relatives of those on board told AFP at the port entrance.

Calls spread on social media to protest in front of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikhail’s house in Tripoli, which declared Monday a national day of mourning.

Unchanged for decades, the Lebanese political class has been accused of corruption and incompetence above all else, the currency has lost more than 90% of its value and the majority of people now live below the poverty line.

Legislative elections are scheduled for May 15 in principle in Lebanon, which is heavily influenced by the Iranian-backed armed movement Hezbollah. “My son-in-law, with five children and a pregnant wife, was trying to escape poverty,” said another relative at the port’s entrance.

Two relatives of Nisrin Merhep were on the boat with their children. ‘People in Tripoli are going to die,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘Even if we try to escape from dirty politicians and their corruption … death catches us’.

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More and more will pass

In a message posted on Twitter, Najat Rosti, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, called for an end to this recurring tragedy. “The absence is still horrendous to see people pushing on a dangerous voyage across the seas,” he said.

According to the United Nations, at least 1,570 people, including 186 Lebanese, left Lebanon illegally or attempted to leave Lebanon by sea between January and November 2021, with most hoping to reach the EU member island of Cyprus. Number of 270 passengers in 2019, including 40 Lebanese.

Most of the migrants are Syrian refugees, who fled their country in the war, but more and more Lebanese are trying to cross.

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