The death toll has risen to 30 as more bodies have been recovered from near Egypt’s coast where a boat carrying at least 300 immigrants sank, a local eyewitness, Ahmed El-Semari, told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday night.
The Health Ministry stated a couple of hours earlier that at least 29 people died after their boat sank off Egypt’s coast near Rashid city in Beheira governorate. It is likely that the death toll will continue to rise.
El-Semari added: “Most of those who drowned were children aged 10-13 years old.”
Residents in the nearby village of Kafr El-Sheikh identified the body of a villager’s son among the dead. They were granted a burial permit from the Interior Ministry, according to El-Semari.
The number of those injured stands at seven, although the number is likely to increase, according to an official source in the governorate of Beheira.
Meanwhile, Beheira governorate official Ahmed Ellozy told Daily News Egypt that over 100 individuals were rescued and assisted by border guards. The Egyptian army is handling rescue efforts.
Mohamed Sultan, the official spokesperson of the Beheira governorate, said that out of 154 rescued people, 111 were Egyptians, 25 were Sudanese, and that the 18 others have yet to be identified.
Ambulance Authority head Ahmed Al-Ansari clarified that the injured and dead were transferred to Rashid Public hospital and other nearby hospitals, according to the ministry’s statement.
Those rescued so far are only half of the number who were on the boat to cross the sea, but officials were not yet able to state the exact number of passengers.
Media reported numbers between 300 to 600 people on the boat, which sank as it embarked in the Mediterranean Sea, likely heading to Europe.
Thousands of illegal immigrants cross the Mediterranean Sea every year, and Egypt has become a popular destination to begin the journey. Egyptians are also counted among these immigrants, most of whom end up travelling to Italy. Hundreds of Egyptian nationals have been repatriated from Italy with the help of the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry.