Lebanon tasks military with probing migrant boat sinking

April 26, 2022 GMT
A Lebanese navy rescuer is lowered on rope from a helicopter as the search for bodies continues following the sinking over the weekend of a boat packed with migrants as the Lebanese navy tried to force it back to shore, in Tripoli, north Lebanon, Monday, April 25, 2022. The small vessel was carrying nearly 60 people, many times its capacity, when the disaster struck on Saturday night. The tragedy was the latest in a growing trend involving mostly Lebanese and Syrians trying to travel to Europe from Lebanon in search of better lives. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese navy rescuer is lowered on rope from a helicopter as the search for bodies continues following the sinking over the weekend of a boat packed with migrants as the Lebanese navy tried to force it back to shore, in Tripoli, north Lebanon, Monday, April 25, 2022. The small vessel was carrying nearly 60 people, many times its capacity, when the disaster struck on Saturday night. The tragedy was the latest in a growing trend involving mostly Lebanese and Syrians trying to travel to Europe from Lebanon in search of better lives. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese navy rescuer is lowered on rope from a helicopter as the search for bodies continues following the sinking over the weekend of a boat packed with migrants as the Lebanese navy tried to force it back to shore, in Tripoli, north Lebanon, Monday, April 25, 2022. The small vessel was carrying nearly 60 people, many times its capacity, when the disaster struck on Saturday night. The tragedy was the latest in a growing trend involving mostly Lebanese and Syrians trying to travel to Europe from Lebanon in search of better lives. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese navy rescuer is lowered on rope from a helicopter as the search for bodies continues following the sinking over the weekend of a boat packed with migrants as the Lebanese navy tried to force it back to shore, in Tripoli, north Lebanon, Monday, April 25, 2022. The small vessel was carrying nearly 60 people, many times its capacity, when the disaster struck on Saturday night. The tragedy was the latest in a growing trend involving mostly Lebanese and Syrians trying to travel to Europe from Lebanon in search of better lives. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese navy rescuer is lowered on rope from a helicopter as the search for bodies continues following the sinking over the weekend of a boat packed with migrants as the Lebanese navy tried to force it back to shore, in Tripoli, north Lebanon, Monday, April 25, 2022. The small vessel was carrying nearly 60 people, many times its capacity, when the disaster struck on Saturday night. The tragedy was the latest in a growing trend involving mostly Lebanese and Syrians trying to travel to Europe from Lebanon in search of better lives. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — Lebanon’s government tasked the military on Tuesday with investigating the deadly sinking of a migrant boat over the weekend amid allegations by survivors that the navy was responsible.

It was still unclear what led the small, overloaded boat to sink off the coast of Tripoli on Saturday. At least seven people, including a small child, were killed and many more are still missing. The boat was carrying at least 60 passengers, many times over its capacity. At least 47 were rescued.

The military has been tasked with conducting a “transparent investigations into the circumstances behind the incident,” under the supervision of the judiciary, said Information Minister Ziad Makari following an emergency Cabinet session Tuesday.

Search and rescue efforts were still underway to locate those still unaccounted for.

Survivors have accused the Lebanese navy of deliberately ramming the vessel while trying to force it back to shore. Lebanese officials have blamed reckless smugglers for deliberately overloading the boat and eschewing safety precautions. President Michel Aoun said the incident must be investigated due to these “conflicting accounts of events.”

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Top military officials, including army chief Joseph Aoun, navy commander Col. Haitham Dnaoui and head of military intelligence Brig. Gen. Tony Kahwaji were summoned to present the findings of their preliminary investigation. The report has not been made public.

The Cabinet also tasked the government’s Higher Relief Commission with providing assistance to the families of victims and survivors and appealed to the Social Affairs Ministry to communicate with international organizations to provide health and psychological assistance.