170 bodies recovered so far in Egyptian migrant boat disaster

CAIRO: President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said on Monday that Egyptians must join hands with his government to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that struck last week when a Europe-bound boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank in the Mediterranean off the Egyptian coast, with the loss of at least 170 lives.

In his first public comments on the incident, el-Sissi said the government could not alone safeguard the country's porous land and sea borders. "As a state, along with its institutions, we are concerned and committed to safeguarding our borders and prevent this, but society must contribute to the effort so this is never repeated."

El-Sissi's televised address came shortly after a Health Ministry official said a total of 170 bodies have been pulled from the waters, five days after the boat sank, an increase of eight bodies from the last official count.

The death toll was expected to rise as many bodies are believed to be trapped inside the boat's refrigerator, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to speak to the press.

The boat is believed to be lying at a depth of 15 meters (49 feet) about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Egyptian shores.

Governor Mohammed Sultan of Beheira province told The Associated Press that a vessel is being sent by British Petroleum with specialised equipment to help lift the 80-ton fishing boat.