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43 dead after migrant boats sink

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OBOCK — The death toll after two migrant boats sank in heavy seas off the coast of Djibouti has risen to 43, the UN migration agency said on Wednesday, with scores still feared missing.

Search and rescue teams met with grim scenes of bodies strewn across the beach at Obock, a port town down the coast from Godaria where the vessels had set sail on the Horn of Africa nation’s northeast coast on Tuesday.

An AFP journalist also saw cadavers in the water before teams placed them in white body bags lined up on the beach.

The International Organization for Migration said the boats capsized half an hour into their voyage. The IOM’s chief of mission in Djibouti Lalini Veerassamy told AFP the death toll had reached 43 on Wednesday.

“This tragic event demonstrates the risks that vulnerable migrants face as they innocently search for better lives,” she said in a statement.

Sixteen people were rescued following the sinking, with one survivor telling Djiboutian authorities there were 130 people on his boat. The number of passengers on the second vessel remains unclear, as do the nationalities of those aboard.

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