Nine more corpses were pulled out of the water on Thursday near Rashid coast, after an illegal migrants boat capsized on Wednesday.
The boat was carrying between 300 and 600 illegal migrants when it sank, as it embarked from the coast to the Mediterranean Sea, likely heading to Europe.
Damanhour Prosecution released 160 illegal migrants who were arrested following a boat capsize in Rashid on Wednesday. Four members of the boat crew were detained for four days, pending investigations.
Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said in a televised statement on Wednesday that the ministry can neither track the number of people on the boat nor examine their documents or names since the process was illegal.
He added that the phenomenon of illegal immigration should be controlled. “Every day, the ministry receives news of casualties of this kind,” he stated.
The death toll has now reached 51, and the armed forces were able to rescue 163 people.
Ayman Salem, 22, one of the survivors, told Daily News Egypt that he decided to migrate because he could not find a job. Salem is a faculty of commerce graduate who recently concluded his mandatory military service and tried to apply for many jobs to no avail.
Salem said he saw two of his friends drowning in front of him but could not help them. “I am glad I survived, but I regret not being able to rescue my fellows,” he said.
According to Salem, the number of boat passengers exceeded 400. The boat flipped one hour after it took off from the shore.
Dozens of the passengers’ families gathered in front of the Rashid police station, as some did not find the names of their deceased relatives.
The ages of the migrants ranged between 16 and 22. It included a number of nationalities, including Egyptian, Sudanese, Syrian, and Somalian.
The incident comes two days after the 71st debate of the United Nations general assembly adopted a new declaration on the rights of refugees and migrants.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a speech on the sidelines of the event that national efforts are being undertaken to counter illegal migration. He noted that it is a “top priority for Egypt’s government.”
A new bill is being drafted on the issue, he said, adding that there have been “increased efforts” by security forces to secure the country’s borders.
Additional reporting by Mahmoud Nasr