At least 71 people killed when the migrant boat sank off the Syrian coast after sailing from Lebanon earlier this week. Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hamiye said search operations are continuing.  

It marks the deadliest such voyage yet from Lebanon, where mounting economic desperation has led many to board often rickety and overcrowded boats in the hope of reaching Europe. Syrian authorities began finding bodies off the coast of Tartus on Thursday afternoon.

The Syrian Transport Ministry has quoted survivors as saying the boat

left from Lebanon's northern Minyeh region on Tuesday with between 120 and 150 people onboard, bound for Europe.

The Lebanese Transport Minister said 20 survivors were being treated in Syrian hospitals, the bulk of them Syrians - around one million of whom live in Lebanon as refugees.

The spate of such voyages has been fuelled by Lebanon's financial collapse in the last three years - one of the worst ever recorded globally. Poverty rates have sky-rocketed among the population of some 6.5 million.

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