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The number of people who died when two migrant boats foundered after setting sail from Djibouti to Yemen has risen to 58, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

The overloaded boats went down on Tuesday about half an hour after setting sail from Djibouti’s northeastern coastline.

Speaking to AFP, Lalini Veerassamy, IOM’s chief of mission in the tiny Horn of Africa nation, said the number of people known to have died in the tragedy had risen to 58, up from 52 a day earlier.

It was the latest incident to occur on the risky sea crossing, often taken by African migrants seeking to work in the Middle East.

Only around 15 people were pulled to safety, most of them Ethiopians.


It was not immediately clear how many people were affected but the IOM said it believed one of the two boats was carrying up to 130 people. Most of those on board were believed to be Ethiopians.

On Wednesday, an AFP journalist saw bodies in the water and others strewn across the beach at Obock, a port town down the coast from Godaria from where the two boats had set sail.

The Bab el-Mandeb strait which separates Djibouti from Yemen is unusual in that it sees migrants and refugees passing in both directions — boatloads of Yemenis fleeing to Africa to escape war, while others head in the opposite direction carrying African migrants to the Arabian Peninsula in search of better opportunities.