At least 61 migrants have died after the boat they were traveling in sank off the coast of Syria, Lebanon’s transport minister said on Friday.
“61 people died and 19 were rescued after the ship sank,” said Ali Hamie, who had reported 53 dead a few hours earlier.
The Lebanese minister said that more than 100 people, mostly Lebanese and Syrians, were on board the small boat that capsized in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Syrian city of Tartus.
According to the Syrian authorities, the boat was carrying 150 people.
Among those rescued are five Lebanese, the minister added.
Tartus is the southernmost of the main Syrian ports and lies just over 50 kilometers north of the Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
Due to the serious economic crisis in Lebanon, more and more Syrian and Palestinian refugees, as well as Lebanese, are trying to cross the Mediterranean in improvised boats to reach European countries, including the island of Cyprus, 175 kilometers from the Lebanese coast.
According to the UN, at least 38 boats with more than 1,500 people have illegally left or attempted to leave Lebanon by sea since 2020.