Jalil Ahmed Ali, a provincial official in the Lahij province, has told AFP close to 25 bodies of undocumented migrants trying to reach the Gulf states have been recovered from the province after a boat carrying close to 200 people capsized off the coast of Yemen.
He says the migrants were being transported by Yemenis smugglers who used a small boat with little or no safety means to risk the journey transporting the over 200 people, including children. Poor weather caused the accident.
Talking to AFP on Monday, Ali said, “The boat overturned two days ago and was carrying between 160 and 200 people.”
He said the rescue team has been searching the sea for any survivors or retrieving the bodies of the boat’s occupants.
He also told the news agency that the fate of the others is unclear since no survivor has been seen and that their efforts now is to retrieve bodies for family members to identify those that can be identified and give them their last respect according to their religion.
A local fisherman also told AFP the majority of the bodies retrieved from the sea seemed to be people of African origin who mostly use the southern sea of Yemen to cross into the Gulf states, being transported by smugglers.
“We saw the bodies floating in the water 10 miles (16km) from the shores of Ras al-Ara,” said the fisherman.
Other sources say most of those killed could be migrants from Sudan, Djibouti, and Mali searching for greener pastures, escaping wars, and prosecution.
Last month, dozens of migrants died using the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates Djibouti from Yemen.
Despite the war in the region, migrants have not stopped using the route to reach Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states.