An Egyptian security official says 18 illegal immigrants are missing after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea on the way to Europe.

The Egyptian Coast Guard on Tuesday managed to save 25 men and recovered two bodies, the official said, out of a crew of 45. Rescue operations are still under way.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Thousands of young Egyptian men make the dangerous, illegal journeys across the Mediterranean to Europe to flee grinding poverty, high unemployment and rising prices at home. Some leave from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, but most travel to Libya to take the shorter sea journey from there.

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