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Dozens of African migrants are reported to have died after a boat carrying them capsized off Yemen’s coast and sank into the water.
Fishermen in Yemen’s Lahj province told reporters yesterday that they had recovered 25 bodies in the water near Ras al-Ara.
A provincial official also confirmed that a boat with between 160 and 200 people on board had overturned in the area two days ago.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it was verifying reports that a vessel carrying a large number of migrants had sunk.
In a tweet sighted by Africa Today News, New York, it said; ‘IOM teams are on the ground and ready to respond to the needs of survivors’.
A Yemeni news site, Aden al-Ghad, meanwhile cited sources as saying that as many as 150 migrants had drowned, and that four Yemenis were among the missing.
Ras al-Ara is a stretch of coastline used by people smugglers that is just to the east of the Bab al-Mandab strait, a 20km-wide (12-mile) waterway which separates Yemen and Djibouti and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa – mostly Ethiopians and Somalis – have crossed via the waterway to Yemen in an attempt to reach neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Many of the smugglers’ boats are overcrowded and unseaworthy, making the journey fraught with danger. In April, at least 44 migrants died after a boat operated by people smugglers capsized on its way from Yemen to Djibouti.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK