55 people drown after boat capsizes off Somalia, UN agency says

Fifty-five people drowned or disappeared after their boat capsized Tuesday off the coast of Somalia, the U.N. refugee agency says.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement Thursday that the accident is the worst of its kind in the Gulf of Aden since 57 Somali migrants were killed trying to reach Yemen in February 2011, Reuters reports.

"Without doubt, the Gulf of Aden is now the deadliest route for people fleeing conflict, violence and human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa," said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR representative for Somalia.

Reports say the boat was overcrowded with nearly 60 passengers and capsized just 15 minutes after setting sail. The bodies of 23 Somali and Ethiopian passengers have been recovered, including 14 women, eight men and a young boy. The remaining passengers are presumed to have drowned, Reuters reports.

So far this year, 95 people have died or disappeared in the waters between Somalia and Yemen, the UNHCR said.

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