DNA tests on 5 bodies washed up on shores of Lebanon

Examinations will seek to find out if the bodies are some of the nine people still missing following the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast. (AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2020

DNA tests on 5 bodies washed up on shores of Lebanon

  • The bodies of two children from an illegal boat full of people fleeing Lebanon for Cyprus were among those recently swept ashore

BEIRUT: DNA tests were on Thursday being carried out on five bodies washed up on Lebanon’s northern coast.
Examinations were expected to reveal if the dead were among the latest victims of a migrant boat tragedy or some of the nine people still missing following the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast.
The bodies of two children from an illegal boat full of people fleeing Lebanon for Cyprus were among those recently swept ashore.
The vessel, capable of carrying a maximum of 30 passengers, had set out for Cyprus from Al-Burj beach on Sept. 7 with 50 individuals on board, most of them Lebanese from impoverished neighborhoods in Tripoli along with two Syrian families.
After sailing for two hours, the boat’s illegal handler abandoned the passengers taking with him their belongings including food, drinks, and mobile phones. The boat drifted in the Mediterranean for five days and a number of bodies have since been found on the Lebanese coast.
A 20-month-old boy reportedly died in his mother’s arms before his father put his body into the sea. Others vanished after attempting to swim to safety although the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force pulled one young man alive from the water and was able to rescue those who had stayed on board.
On Thursday, a security meeting chaired by Lebanese President Michel Aoun discussed an increase in illegal attempts to help people flee Lebanon by boat.
Aoun called for “combating the networks that organize this type of transport across the sea, which is against the law, and taking appropriate measures in this regard.”


Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

Updated 23 October 2020

Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

  • The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “fully rejected the declaration containing baseless accusations and allegations.”
During a trilateral regional summit on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions.
The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations. Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt while dismissing a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government as “legally invalid.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the declaration attacked Ankara rather than supporting peace and stability in the region. It repeated Turkey’s position that cooperation could only take place with the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in governing and sharing the resources of the ethnically divided island nation.
“We will continue with determination to protect our rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry statement said.
The trilateral summit took place amid high tensions between nominal NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and energy rights.
In late summer, Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by warships to conduct seismic research in a part of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece claims as its territory, which prompted the Greek government to deploy its own warships.
Turkey pulled the research ship back to shore for several weeks for maintenance and to allow time for diplomacy but redeployed the Oruc Reis on a new energy exploration mission. A maritime announcement by Turkey says the Oruc Reis and two other ships would continue working in the area until Oct. 27.
Turkey also has had ships prospecting for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone.