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The bodies of 53 migrants have been found after the boat they were travelling in sank off Syria’s coast, Lebanon’s transport minister has said.
The Syrian health ministry says 20 survivors are being treated in a hospital in the southern city of Tartus
Authorities have yet to say how the vessel sank, but told reporters that a rescue attempt was ongoing despite challenging conditions.
They said the boat was carrying between 120 and 150 people when it sank.
Officials added that the vessel had departed from from Minyeh, a city near the Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
Located on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, Tartus, where survivors have been transported is located about 30 miles (50 km) north of the Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
Lebanon hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and almost 14,000 from other countries, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.
However, the country is facing a severe economic crisis, fuelled by Covid-19 and the 2020 Beirut port explosion, with more than 80% of the population struggling to afford food and medicine.
The situation is having a severe impact on the country’s migrant population, many of whom are choosing to flee elsewhere, including to Europe.
Earlier this month, six people, including children, were killed when a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon to Europe sank off the coast of Turkey. The country’s coast guard said 73 migrants from four boats had been rescued.