80 African migrants most of them Ethiopians feared drowned off Yemen coast

January 3rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

(CNN) – At least 80 African migrants were feared drowned Monday after their boats capsized off the coast of Yemen, authorities there reported. The two boats sank in separate accidents.

One boat, which carried 45 migrants mostly from Ethiopia, capsized in the Red Sea, according to Yemen’s official news agency, SABA. Three people on that boat, believed to be from Somalia, survived and were found on Yemen’s coast, the agency said.

Between 35 and 40 migrants were on the second boat that capsized off the coast of Lahj province, SABA reported, citing the interior ministry.

Many of the people on board were women and children, according to the official website of Yemen’s ruling party. It said all of the migrants on the second boat were from Ethiopia. A search is under way to locate the missing.

Yemen, seen as a gateway to other parts of the Middle East, is a common destination for African migrants fleeing economic hardship and war because of its proximity on the nearby Arabian Peninsula.

Despite the dangers of the journey, thousands of people cross the Gulf of Aden each year, according to the United Nation’s refugee agency.

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