18 dead after boat capsizes

June 19, 2009 12:00 am

, GENEVA, Jun 19 – Eighteen people died and 29 were missing after a boat transporting illegal migrants capsized in the Gulf of Aden, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

"Eighteen people drowned and another 29 are missing and presumed dead after a smuggling boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden due to strong winds and rough seas this week off the coast of Yemen," the agency said in a statement.

The incident occurred on Monday and the boat was believed to have been carrying 88 people in total, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.

"Some 24 African nationals made it to the shore aboard a smaller skiff which was towed behind a bigger boat," according to the statement.

Four survivors were found ashore in the Yemen town of Bourom, some 500 kilometres (370 miles) east of Aden, it said, while two others were located alive on the outskirts of Mukalla.

The second group said they had walked towards Mukalla along with another 11 Somali survivors who have not yet been found, the UNHCR said.

"More bodies are expected to be washed ashore as the likelihood of finding others alive dims due to seasonal high waves throughout the Gulf of Aden from June to September," it said.

According to the agency, more than 522 boats and 25,764 people have arrived in Yemen this year after making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa.

It said 146 people were believed to have drowned and 85 were missing at sea.

"Those who make the crossing are fleeing desperate situations of civil war, political instability, poverty and famine in Somalia and the Horn of Africa," it said.


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