CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities have arrested the owner and crew members of a boat that sank last week carrying hundreds of migrants, the security chief of Beheira province was quoted as saying by state media on Wednesday.
The boat capsized off the Mediterranean coast on Sept. 21. Rescue workers and fishermen said they had rescued at least 169 people, but at least 202 people died and uncertainty remains over how many might still be missing.
“Security services were able to arrest 15 people, who are crew members, brokers, who were involved in the accident that killed 202 people until now,” security chief Alaa el Din Shawky said, adding that the owner of the boat was also arrested.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday it believed at least 450 people were aboard the vessel and that about 300 perished in all. Egyptian security sources initially said there had been almost 600 migrants aboard.
Officials said the boat was carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants, and that they believed it was heading for Italy.
More and more migrants have been trying to cross to Italy from the African coast over the summer months, particularly from Libya, where people traffickers operate with relative impunity. But boats have increasingly departed from Egypt of late as Libya has slipped deeper into lawlessness.
(Reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Catherine Evans)