Egypt migrant boat death toll rises to 162

The number dead in a migrant boat disaster off Egypt’s coast climbed to 162 on Friday as rescuers recovered more bodies from the Mediterranean.

Rescuers had said search operations would focus on the boat’s hold, where witnesses said about 100 people had been when the vessel capsized. 

The accident comes months after the EU border agency Frontex warned that growing numbers of Europe-bound migrants were using Egypt as a departure point for the dangerous voyage.

Traffickers often use barely seaworthy vessels and overload them to extract the maximum money in fares from desperate migrants.

After Balkan countries closed the popular overland route in March and the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to halt departures, asylum-seekers turned to other ways to reach Europe. Fabrice Leggeri, executive director of Frontex, said in June that the dangerous crossing from Egypt to Italy, which often takes more than 10 days, was becoming increasingly popular.

More than 300,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year from various points of departure, the UN said this week. In the first nine months of 2015, that figure was 520,000.