BEIRUT — More than three months after the sinking of a boat carrying would-be migrants off the coast of Qalamoun in North Lebanon, a submarine is due to arrive today at the Beirut port, before heading to the Tripoli port on Thursday to extract the bodies of about 30 people who are still trapped in the ill-fated vessel 400 meters underwater, the Lebanese Army confirmed to L’Orient Today.
Here’s what we know:
• The submarine, which is operated by a company registered in India, will begin its mission on Monday or Tuesday, in collaboration with the Lebanese navy and Australian rescue services, according to MP Ashraf Rifi (independent/Tripoli), a former head of the Internal Security Forces, and who organized the coming of the submarine.
• According to Rifi, the rental of the submarine for the duration of the mission will cost $251,000, and the mission will last for one week. It was not immediately clear how the operation was being financed, but reports circulated last month that a submarine was expected in August funded by Lebanese expatriates now based in Australia.
• On April 23, nearly 85 passengers boarded the boat, which was reportedly heading for Europe, to escape the economic crisis raging in Lebanon. The vessel, however, was intercepted by the army about 5.5 km from the Lebanese coast, before sinking. Around 40 people are believed to have died in the tragedy. However, two contradictory versions of the cause of the sinking exist. The Lebanese Army says the makeshift boat sank because it was overloaded with passengers. The survivors say the soldiers' vessel collided with the boat causing the sinking.