ROSETTA, Egypt (AP) — The death toll from a Europe-bound boat that sank in the Mediterranean while carrying hundreds of migrants rose to 178 on Tuesday after the boat was lifted from the bottom of the sea by a crane vessel.
Officials said the death toll was likely to rise significantly as they retrieve bodies from the bottom of the boat, where many of the migrants are believed to have been trapped and drowned.
An Associated Press reporter saw dozens of families and friends whose loved ones were missing waiting anxiously near the port in the coastal town of Rosetta, wanting to take the bodies for burial. Some screamed in grief at the sight of the latest bodies being returned to shore aboard an inflatable boat.
Riot police were deployed at the port to keep the families at bay as ambulances took the bodies to the local morgue. Many of those waiting covered their faces with medical masks to protect themselves from the stench of decomposing bodies.
Angry families have been waiting for the bodies since the tragedy happened last Wednesday. They accuse authorities of negligence, arguing that they were slow in retrieving the bodies.
Around 160 people survived Wednesday’s sinking. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the tragedy was “unnecessary,” and on Monday called on Egyptians to join his government to tighten control of Egypt’s porous borders.
Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.