Syrian authorities have recovered the bodies of at least 61 people who were aboard a migrant boat that sank off its coast after sailing from Lebanon earlier this week, a Lebanese minister said on Friday, as search efforts continued.
Lebanon has seen a spike in migration driven by a devastating financial meltdown that has plunged swathes of the population into poverty over the last three years. In addition to Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian refugees have been among those trying to leave the country by sea.
Syrian authorities began finding bodies off the coast of Tartus on Thursday afternoon. Its transport ministry has cited survivors saying the boat left from Lebanon’s northern Minyeh region on Tuesday with between 120 and 150 people onboard, bound for Europe.
Samer Qubrusli, the Syrian director-general of ports, said rescue efforts were continuing on Friday.
The number of people who have left or tried to leave Lebanon by sea nearly doubled in 2021 from 2020. It rose again by more than 70% in 2022 compared with the same period last year.
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