More than 400 migrants and refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia are feared to have drowned in the Egyptian shores after the boat they were being transferred to by traffickers capsized in the Mediterranean, survivors say.
Somali media reports say that rescue workers have only managed to save 41 of the 500 or so passengers from the waters and took them to southern Greek city of Kalamata.
Neither the Italian nor Greek coast guards have confirmed what would be one of the deadliest migrant boat disasters in recent years.
A Somali woman living in Egypt told the BBC Somali service that three of her relatives, whom she had not heard from since they set out for Europe on Thursday, had died.
The deaths come on the eve of the first anniversary of the sinking of a migrant boat in the waters between Libya and Lampedusa in which up to 800 people may have drowned.
The presidents of both Somalia and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland offered their condolences following the reports.
The Ethiopian government haven’t yet issued any notice confirming the death. If confirmed, it will be the worst week for the people of Ethiopia who are still mourning from Friday’s vicious attack in Gambela region by armed Murle community from neighbouring South Sudan who killed over 208 people, including women and children and abducted 108 children.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in an address to the nation on Sunday that Ethiopia was seeking permission to cross the border for a joint military operation with South Sudan.