Lebanese soldiers search for survivors off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, Lebanon, 25 April 2022 | Photo: Archive EPA / WAEL HAMZEH
Lebanese soldiers search for survivors off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, Lebanon, 25 April 2022 | Photo: Archive EPA / WAEL HAMZEH

Search operations for approximately 30 migrants who drowned in April started on Monday off the coasts of Tripoli, in North Lebanon. The search operations are privately financed by the relatives of the victims who raised a collective fund for this purpose.

Search operations at sea started on Monday, August 22, in Lebanon. The mission is to locate and recover the bodies of approximately 30 Lebanese migrants, among them many children, who drowned last April off the coasts of Tripoli, in the northern part of the country.

The recovery operation is privately financed, state authorities are not involved. Although the Lebanese military navy is conducting the mission, it uses a submarine which was reportedly rented by private citizens for the cost of 250 thousand USD. These funds were raised by the families of the victims who live abroad, in particular from Australia.

The intermediary for this 'rental' was the former Minister of Justice, and police chief, currently member of the Lebanese Parliament, Ashraf Rifi who is described as the right-hand man for Saudi Arabia in Lebanon. Originally from Tripoli, he aspires to consolidate his electoral base approval in northern Lebanon based on popular consensus.

The tragedy happened while trying to reach Italy

The Lebanese state declared its bankruptcy in March 2020. In the context of the worst financial crisis of its history, the Lebanese state does not even have the means to adjust to inflation the salaries for its military.

The shipwreck that took place last 23 April, off the coast of Tripoli, approximately 30 people died, a large number were women and children.

On the boat, now 400 meters under sea surface, over 80 people had embarked. They had boarded with the hope of fleeing Lebanon and its economic collapse to reach Italy.

The search for the proof of the causes of the disastrous shipwreck

The relatives of the victims are taking part in the recovery operation, on board the Lebanese maritime military. Some survivors accused the Lebanese Coast Guard of sinking the ship on purpose. The military navy denied this accusation, claiming the shipwreck was caused by the high number of people on the boat.

According to Rifi, the recovery operations will allow to collect new proof for the inquiry on the causes of the disaster.Some observers appear skeptical and believe the Lebanese navy will not allow to collect any proof involving their responsibility in the shipwreck.

 

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