At least 70 Ethiopians have drowned after a boat used by smugglers to transport migrants to Yemen sank in the Red Sea in rough weather, according to security authorities in the western part of Yemen.

The authorities in Taiz province told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday that the small boat sank after encountering high winds and rough seas off al-Makha port.

Human traffickers often use unseaworthy boats to smuggle African migrants to Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, and Europe.

They said the boat was carrying 70 people, all of them Ethiopians.

Tens of thousands of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond crowd into often unsafe boats each year and many drown.

In March, at least 42 African migrants drowned in the Arabian Sea off the southern coast of Yemen.

Source: Agencies