Several people remain missing after a boat carrying about 60 people capsized near the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
A child died and 45 people were rescued after a boat carrying about 60 migrants sank off the coast of Lebanon, where the number of deadly sea crossings has increased due to an economic crisis.
“Forty-five people have been rescued and the body of one child” has been retrieved from the boat that sank off the coast of the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamie told a local broadcaster.
He said there were about 60 people on board carrying migrants from Lebanon.
“The search is underway,” Hamie said.
The Lebanese government said in a statement that Prime Minister Najib Mikati was monitoring the sinking of a passenger boat departing from the Qalamoun area, south of Tripoli.
The Lebanese Red Cross said it had sent 10 ambulances to Tripoli.
A correspondent from the AFP news agency said the military had closed the port, allowing access only to ambulances rushing in and out.
The families of some passengers gathered to check if their loved ones were their loved ones, but they were refused entry.
“This happened because of the politicians who forced unemployed Lebanese to leave the country,” AFP quoted a man as waiting for news from a relative outside the port.
Lebanon, a country of about six million, is grappling with an unprecedented financial crisis of a magnitude usually associated with war, according to the World Bank.
The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its purchasing power and the majority of the population lives below the poverty line.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, between January and November 2021, at least 1,570 people, of whom 186 were Lebanese, left or attempted to leave Lebanon by sea.
Most hoped to reach the EU member Cyprus, an island 175 km (110 miles) away. This is an increase of 270 passengers, including 40 Lebanese, in 2019.
Most of those trying to leave Lebanon by sea are Syrian refugees, but Lebanese have increasingly joined their ranks.
Tripoli is Lebanon’s second-largest city and the poorest city in the Mediterranean, according to the UN’s Habitat Program.