The bodies of 162 people had been pulled from the waters off the Egyptian coast by Friday, 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 figures. 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.

An AP reporter near the Nile Delta city of Rosetta saw between 20 to 30 bodies brought in by fishing boats early Friday morning and delivered to a group of waiting ambulances at the coast guard pier.

Pictures posted on social networks showed dozens of bodies lined up in black plastic bags, and others floating near wooden fishing boats. Authorities have struggled to give accurate figures for the number of people on board the capsized vessel. The boat was located nearly 12 km from the Nile Delta port city of Rosetta, when it sank.

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The International Organization for Migration said most of those rescued were Egyptians but they also included Sudanese, Eritreans, a Syrian and an Ethiopian.

After Balkan countries closed the popular overland route in March and the European Union agreed a deal with Turkey to halt departures, asylum-seekers turned to other ways to reach Europe.

More than 10,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014, according to the United Nations.

At least 300,000 migrants have crossed the sea so far this year from various points of departure, the UN said this week.

At a small pier called el-Borg, hundreds of families had gathered Friday, hoping to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Many of the survivors were briefly detained by police. Some of those rescued were taken to hospitals, where they lay handcuffed to beds and under police guard.

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