Boat carrying migrants from Lebanon sinks off Syria, 15 dead

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DAMASCUS, Syria (TUSEN) — A boat carrying migrants from Lebanon capsized off the coast of Syria Thursday afternoon, killing at least 15 people, Syrian state media reported.

State television quoted Syrian port authority chief Brig. Gene. Samer Kobrosli said eight others were rescued and taken for treatment at a hospital in the coastal city of Tartus. He added that authorities are still looking for survivors near the Syrian island of Arwad in the Mediterranean Sea.

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It was not immediately clear how many people were on board and where exactly they were going.

State media gave no further details but quoted some of the survivors as saying they had set out from the Lebanese coastal town of Minyeh a few days ago, apparently with the aim of reaching Europe. It said the boat was carrying people of different nationalities.

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Thousands of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians have left Lebanon on boats in recent months in search of better opportunities in Europe.

Lebanon has a population of 6 million, including 1 million Syrian refugees, and since late 2019 has been gripped by a severe economic collapse that has driven more than three quarters of the population into poverty.

In April, a boat carrying dozens of Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians attempting to migrate to Italy by sea crashed more than three miles from the port of Tripoli after a clash with the Lebanese navy. Dozens were killed in the incident.

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