Bodies from a sunken migrant boat in Lebanon: 6 bodies

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TRIPOLI, Lebanon — The Lebanese military on Sunday recovered the bodies of five migrants whose boat carrying nearly 60 people sank the night before, while one washed ashore raised the death toll to seven, state media reported.

According to the National News Agency the five bodies were found on a small island near Tripoli, north of Tripoli. It had reported earlier that eight bodies had been found, but it was later reduced to five.

Later, the agency reported the discovery of the body of a Tripoli-born man on the boat near Chekka.

Local TV stations were informed by several survivors that the incident was caused by the Lebanese navy. Two military ships rammed their migrant boats, injuring it and trying to force it back to the coast.

Some survivors claimed that there were also Syrian refugees aboard the boat.

Haitham Dinnawi (commander of the Lebanese navy) told reporters that the migrant vessel was only capable of transporting six people. He said that the boat was not equipped with any precautionary measures and that no one was wearing life vests.

Dinnawi said that the captain of a migrant boat was responsible for maneuvering to avoid being returned to shore, and also blamed him for hitting one of two navy ships. He also showed photos of the damage to the back and sides of one navy vessel, and said that the migrant ship sank within seconds.

“It was a crime to take people on such a boat,” Dinnawi said, adding that it was manufactured in 1974 and carrying 15 times its capacity. He stated that search operations continue for the missing and added that six bodies have been recovered so far, with five on Sunday as well as one on Saturday.

Survivor Mustafa al-Jundi stated to The Associated Press, that while the navy attempted to stop the migrant boat, it continued sailing.

“They rammed into us and made us sink then moved away,” said al-Jundi whose two sisters are still missing. He stated that the Lebanese army returned to rescue them around 90 minutes later.

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