BEIRUT — A migrant boat that departed Lebanon last week has been missing for 72 hours, according to families of the passengers, who say they lost contact with the boat on Monday.
Some of the passengers' family members and other protesters blocked the main road in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood on Thursday to demand the Lebanese state take action. They also protested poor living conditions, as well as the electricity and water cuts that have plagued the city's neighborhoods for more than 20 days.
The Lebanese Army unsuccessfully tried to persuade protesters to reopen the roads, according to L'Orient-Le Jour's correspondent in the region.
Alarm Phone, an independent initiative that supports people crossing the Mediterranean Sea, tweeted Tuesday that they had been alerted to a boat with 53 people aboard — including five children — that was in distress off the island of Crete. Greek authorities have not yet intervened.
In recent weeks, dozens of makeshift boats left the Lebanese coast bound for Europe. Most of the passengers are seeking to escape Lebanon's devastating economic crisis.
Most of these boats — often overloaded with passengers and in dilapidated condition — do not reach their intended destinations. They are often intercepted by the Lebanese Army or require a rescue at sea.
Last week, Italian authorities rescued 250 migrants who had been stuck for several days in the waters off Malta.
In April, a migrant boat with dozens of people aboard sank off the coast of Tripoli, North Lebanon, after the Lebanese Army intercepted the vessel. Around 40 people were killed, with dozens still missing beneath the sea.
According to the Turkish coast guard, more than 30,000 irregular migrants were intercepted so far in 2022, more than double the number in the same period last year.