Death toll hits 31 after migrant boats sink off Djibouti

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The death toll from the sinking of two migrant boats off the coast of Djibouti has risen to 31, the UN migration agency said on Wednesday, with scores still feared missing.

Two vessels carrying migrants departed from Godaria on the Horn of Africa nation’s northeast coast on Tuesday morning, but sank in heavy seas 30 minutes into the journey, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The IOM’s chief of mission in Djibouti Lalini Veerassamy said the death toll had hit 31 on Wednesday.

“This tragic event demonstrates the risks that vulnerable migrants face as they innocently search for better lives,” she said in a statement issued by IOM.

Sixteen people were recovered alive following the sinking, with one survivor telling Djiboutian authorities there were 130 people on his boat.

The number of passengers on the second vessel remains unclear, as do the nationalities of those onboard.

Located across the Bab el-Mandeb strait from Yemen and next to volatile Somalia and Ethiopia, Djibouti has in recent years become a transit point for migrants heading to find work on the Arabian Peninsula.

(PUNCHNG)