GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- An increasing number of Syrian refugees are trying to reach Europe by boat and many are dying in the attempt, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.
A boat that sank last week was believed carrying as many as 500 people, said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Only 200 were rescued.
"We are disturbed that the cause of the tragedy could well be attributed to shots that were fired after the boat left Libya, injuring four passengers and damaging the hull," Fleming said at a news conference in Geneva.
Another boat that sank off Alexandria was carrying 112 people, including 40 Syrians, Fleming said. Those who survived the wreck are being held in Egypt.
Fleming criticized Egypt for detaining and deporting Syrian refugees. Amnesty International released a short report Thursday that was also highly critical of Egypt and said the Egyptian navy has gone after refugee vessels.