43 dead as boat capsizes off Egyptian coast

Egyptian authorities have arrested four people in connection with the death of at least 43 refugees whose Europe-bound boat capsized off Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

In June this, around 320 refugees were killed when a boat capsized off the Greek island of Crete. He said he was among around 100 people in a hold used to store fish when the vessel capsized.

The boat was carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants, officials said. They've continued to aid in the search up and down the coast near the town of Rashid.

There were no details about the destination of the boat, although officials said the boat was probably heading for Italy.

Egypt's Armed Forces also said that the rescue ship managed to foil another boat carrying 294 migrants attempting illegal immigration.

Last May, hundreds of migrants died after a wooden boat coming from Libya capsized, even as the Italian navy rushed to the rescue. "It's a wooden boat", he said.

European arrivals by sea decreased during the spring after the European Union and Turkey reached an agreement on curbing migrant flows across the Mediterranean, launching "Operation Sophia", an effort to destroy smugglers' boats.

Illegal immigration via Egyptian Mediterranean Sea shores rose over the past few years in attempts to reach Europe and flee hard economic conditions in the financially-struggling Arab country, where unemployment rate hit 12.5 percent, according to official reports.

The deadly accident comes months after the EU's border agency Frontex warned that growing numbers of migrants bound for Europe were turning to Egypt as a departure point for the unsafe sea journey.

"The death toll is going to rise", a medical source said. In May this year, some 700 migrants and refugees have died in several separate shipwrecks in just several days. Some of those rescued who suffered injuries were taken to hospitals, where they lie handcuffed to hospital beds under police guard.

People smugglers in Egypt are believed to be using old fishing vessels, packed with people both below and above deck, to make the hazardous journey.

A health ministry official said 55 bodies had been retrieved.

So far this year, 264,513 migrants reached Europe by sea, mostly landing in Greece and Italy, according to IOM estimates as of the end of last month.

The migrant crisis has proven deeply divisive in Europe, which has struggled to come up with a unified response.

An EU official told AFP this month that nearly 300 smuggler boats had been put out of commission in the past year.

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