'Boat sinks off Sudan coast, 197 refugees killed'

Sudanese media reports vessel trying to smuggle people to Saudi Arabia goes down after fire breaks out on board; 3 people rescued.

July 5, 2011 23:54
A migrant boat arrives in Lampedusa, April.

migrant boat arrives in italy_58 reuters. (photo credit: STRINGER Italy / Reuters)

KHARTOUM - A boat packed with refugees bound for Saudi Arabia sunk off the Sudanese coast, killing 197 people, Sudanese media linked to the government said on Tuesday.

Only three people were rescued, the state-linked news agency Sudanese Media Center said, quoting officials in Port Sudan.

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A fire broke out aboard the boat which was trying to smuggle people to Saudi Arabia, the agency said, adding that the dead were from Sudan's neighboring countries. It did not say where the boat had started its journey.

Somali refugees, fleeing their war-town country, often try going to Saudi Arabia via the sea with the help of smugglers. Many end up first in the kingdom's poor southern neighbor Yemen which is closer to Somalia.

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