At Least 15 Gaza Migrants Killed as Boat Capsizes in Mediterranean

Reports say ship, bound for Italy, may have carried as many as 160 people and 72 have been rescued.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Photo released by the Maltese Army shows migrants whose boat capsized south of Sicily climb on a life raft, October 11, 2013. Credit: AP

At least 15 migrants from Gaza who reached Egypt via tunnels and were trying to reach Italy were killed on Saturday when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean, media reports say.

Egyptian military sources told the Palestinian Ma'an news agency that a vessel called "Abu Othman" capsized offshore Al-Ajami, near Alexandria, in northern Egypt.

Some 72 people were rescued from the ship, which was wrecked after hitting a rock offshore soon after it departed, Ma'an reported.

Reports say as many as 160 people may have been on board the ship. Ma'an's sources said that Syrian and Egyptian nationals may have been among the migrants seeking to reach Europe.

Because of the border controls put in place by Israel and Egypt, more than 100,000 people this year have made their way across the Mediterranean into Europe, Ma'an reported.

Israel's seven-week Operation Protective Edge was designed largely to destroy the tunnel network created by Hamas.

Ma'an estimated that some 95 percent of the tunnels into Egypt have been destroyed by Israel and Egypt. This has led many Gazans to pay substantial sums to smugglers to get them through the remaining tunnels into Egypt, Ma'an reported.