January 4, 2011

African migrants drown in heavy seas off Yemen coast

At least 43 African migrants trying to reach Yemen by boat have drowned in heavy seas off the coast, and a second boat with up to 40 Ethiopians aboard is missing, Yemen's interior ministry said today.

The ministry said three Somalis were rescued after a vessel carrying 46 people, mostly from Ethiopia, capsized.

"It's not known in which direction the wind took them, and their fate is unknown," the ministry's website quoted the Yemeni coastguard as saying of the missing vessel, which it said carried 35-40 Ethiopians including women and children.

Mass drownings have been frequent as many African migrants in unseaworthy boats try to reach Yemen, which they see as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East and the west.

"The Gulf of Aden is still used by many migrants and asylum seekers trying to get to Yemen and then further on to Saudi Arabia," Jean-Philippe Chauzy, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, said.


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