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Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:31 AM

55 people drowned or missing off Somali coast

The Associated Press

The U.N. refugee agency says 55 people have drowned or are missing after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Somali coast.

UNHCR said the incident late Tuesday represented the biggest loss of life in the Gulf of Aden since February 2011, when 57 Somali refugees and migrants drowned while attempting to reach Yemen.

The U.N. says five people survived Tuesday's accident. The survivors said the boat was overcrowded and capsized 15 minutes into its journey. Twenty-three bodies were recovered; the rest are presumed to have drowned.

Bruno Geddo, the UNCHR representative for Somalia, said the deaths are a reminder of the risks Somalis take to flee their country. Geddo said the Gulf of Aden is the deadliest route for people fleeing conflict and rights abuses in the Horn of Africa.


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