NEARLY 200 people have drowned when a boat carrying illegal migrants from Sudan to Saudi Arabia caught fire after four hours at sea, Sudanese officials said.
“One hundred and ninety seven people from neighbouring countries drowned in the Red Sea, inside Sudanese territorial waters, following the burning of a boat that was illegally transporting them to Saudi Arabia,” the semi-official Sudan Media Centre said, citing officials.
“The information (published by SMC) is correct,” a police spokesman told AFP, adding that further details had not yet been received.
SMC quoted authorities in Sudan’s Red Sea state as saying only three people had been rescued, but that the search for more survivors was ongoing.
They said the people-trafficking operation was planned and implemented in the locality of Tokar, which is about 150 kilometres south of Port Sudan, near the border with Eritrea, and that four Yemenis, who allegedly owned the Cuban-flagged boat, had been arrested.
A separate attempt to smuggle 247 migrants, mostly from Somalia, Eritrea, Chad, and Nigeria, also through Sudan’s coastal region of Tokar, had been foiled, according to the same report.