Lebanon: Survivors recall harrowing migrant boat disaster

“The minute we arrived at the boat the captain realised we would not make it. He shouted: ‘Take us back! You are sending us to our death!'”

Hamida, 32, recounts the last minutes before the boat, carrying more than 150 migrants, sank in the Mediterranean.

“Captain Usama was threatened with a gun,” she says. “Youssef, the brother of the main smuggler Bilal Dieb, pulled a gun and said: ‘We will start with your kids if you don’t get on the boat!'”

On a dark night in September, some 300 to 400 people were cramped into a one-story building in a fenced-off farmyard near Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, close to the Syrian border. They had all paid smugglers thousands of dollars to board a boat to take them to Europe. Within two days, more than 100 of them would be dead.

Hamida Misto, her husband, their three children, and her deaf father were among the passengers. They had spent six days and nights at the farm, where the people smugglers had told them to wait, before boarding a boat…

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This article was written by and originally published on www.bbc.co.uk