EGYPT ROSETTA BOAT MIGRANTS.jpg
Relatives of missing persons of a capsized boat gather as they wait for rescue workers, at the port city of Rosetta, some 250km north of Cairo, Egypt, 21 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/MAHMOUD TAHA EGYPT OUT

More than 50 people have been found dead after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Egypt, a health official said Thursday.

Nine bodies were recovered on Thursday, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told dpa, bringing the death toll to 51 from 42 the previous day.

The bodies retrieved were those of eight Africans and an Egyptian child, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported online.

Hundreds of migrants were on board the boat when it sank on Wednesday off the Egyptian coastal town of Rosetta, according to Egyptian media.

Reports gave conflicting figures for the exact number of people aboard the boat: Al-Ahram gave an estimate of 400, while private newspaper al-Shorouk said the vessel was carrying at least 300 people.

Boat passengers included Egyptians, Syrians, Sudanese nationals, Somalis and Eritreans, al-Shorouk reported.

Authorities succeeded in rescuing 163 people, including 123 Egyptians, from the accident, state television reported.

Prosecutors on Thursday ordered four people to be remanded in police custody pending an investigation into the tragedy, the broadcaster added.

The four are crew members of the boat.

A search is ongoing for other people who were aboard the boat, the television report added, without giving a specific figure.

In recent years, Egypt has seen an increase in migrants trying to illegally travel across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Regional turmoil and high unemployment rates are believed to be the main factors for the risky journeys. 

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