The bodies of 162 people had been pulled from the waters off the Egyptian coast by today, two days after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean while attempting to head to Europe.
Dozens more are feared dead, said Mohammed Sultan, the governor of Beheira, who provided The Associated Press with the latest death toll.
He also said that the search operation is still ongoing. Many of them are believed to be children and women who were unable to swim away when the boat sank.
Wahdan el-Sayyed, the spokesman of the Nile Delta province of Beheira, provided the latest figures and told The Associated Press that the search operation was ongoing.
An AP reporter near the Nile Delta city of Rosetta saw between 20 to 30 bodies brought in by coast guards in gray inflatable boats and fishermen in wooden boats early today morning and delivered to ambulances at the coast guard pier.
Pictures posted on social networking sites showed dozens of bodies lined up in black plastic bags, and others floating near wooden fishing boats. Videos showed that some fishermen were using nets to bring up the bodies.
In one video, a fisherman was heard shouting into his mobile phone that, "the sea is littered with bodies."
Many of those gathered at the shore where the bodies arrived appeared to be wearing surgical masks to protect them from the smell of decaying bodies.
Some brought chunks of ice to be placed on the bodies to prevent them from decomposing.
Authorities have struggled to give accurate figures for the number of people on board the capsized vessel. The boat was located nearly 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the Nile Delta port city of Rosetta when it sank.
It had waited at sea for many hours, perhaps days, for smaller wooden boats carrying migrants to arrive from different points along the Egyptian coastline.
Survivors said that overcrowding caused the boat to capsize.
The head of the local council in the area, Ali Abdel-Sattar, said that the currents have carried the bodies of the victims many kilometers away from the site of the sinking. "Today, four bodies, including two Egyptian children, were found 20 kilometers to the east," he told the AP.
He added that many of the migrants are believed to have been "stored in the bottom of the boat, in the fridge."
"Those are the ones who drowned first, most probably stuck, and their bodies might not be retrieved anytime soon," he said, adding, "those we found are the ones liberated from the boat. I believe many are stuck and now laying in the bottom of the sea." He said the boat may now have sunk to 16 meters (yards) below sea level.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)