Syrian authorities retrieve bodies of Lebanese migrants off coast of Tartus

TARTUS, Syria / BEIRUT — Syrian authorities announced that the bodies of migrants had been found near the coastal city of Tartus and that searches for others would continue if weather conditions permitted.

Lebanon’s stifling political and economic crises, which have dragged on for years, has pushed hundreds of Lebanese to emigrate daily via various legal and illegal means to escape their bitter reality. Some of them are forced to follow incredibly risky methods.

A few days ago, about 150 people boarded a boat from the port of Miniyeh in northern Lebanon, to migrate towards Europe, but the bad weather led to the boat’s sinking.

On Thursday morning, the first body of a drowned passenger was seen off the coast of the Syrian island of Arwad near Tartus. More bodies soon appeared. As of the publishing of this article, more than 60 bodies have been recovered. At least 20 people managed to survive the boats sinking.

Samer Kobrosly, Director General of the Syrian Sea Ports, said in a statement that “rescue operations are continuing” at Arwad Island.

Kobrosly stated that Lebanese authorities did not inform Syrian official authorities of the loss of the boat, but contacts took place between the Syrian and Lebanese Ministries of Transport after the incident.

Hours after the recovery of the bodies, Syrian authorities announced the suspension of operations due to the high waves.

The head of the Lebanese Forces party, Dr. Samir Geagea, called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense to immediately ask the friends of Lebanon who have naval forces in the Mediterranean to help search for the boat and rescue its passengers.