(MENAFN- Famagusta Gazette) Dozens of migrants went missing and feared dead when an overcrowded boat overturned near Yemen's coast, a government official told Xinhua on Monday.
The local official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in the waters near Yemen's conflict-affected shores, a boat carrying approximately 75 migrants overturned near the coastal city of Mocha on Sunday.
He clarified that all the passengers were predominantly migrants from countries in the Horn of Africa seeking asylum in Yemen.
He said that strong winds are believed to have caused the boat to overturn.
While 26 survivors managed to swim ashore and were rescued by the Yemeni coastguard troops, at least 49 other passengers remained missing, according to the official.
Yemeni authorities, including the coastguard units, have engaged in search and rescue efforts.
“It is a heartbreaking tragedy,” said Ahmed Ali, an officer for the Yemeni coastguard troops.“These migrants left their homelands hoping to find refuge in Yemen. Instead, they have met with disasters at sea.”
Despite years of civil war, Yemen continues to serve as a transit country for tens of thousands of migrants heading from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia. With the ongoing civil war leaving Yemen in turmoil, curbing the illegal smuggling operations has become increasingly challenging.
Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2014, with the Houthis fighting against the internationally-recognized Yemeni government. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in the conflict in support of the Yemeni government in 2015. ■
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