Yemen Migrant Boat
A group of illegal emigrants waits after being detained by Libyan coast guards who caught them attempting to flee the coast to Europe, in Zawia, west of Tripoli. Reuters

Sixty migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia have drowned in the worst disaster to occur off the coast of Yemen this year, the United Nations has said.

Two Yemeni crew members also died when the boat capsized in the Red Sea.

"The tragedy is the largest single loss of life this year of migrants and refugees attempting to reach Yemen via the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden," the UN's refugee agency said.

After the incident, witnesses said that the bodies of dozens of illegal immigrants were found on the beaches of Yemen.

Approximately 50 bodies were found and buried near the town of Zoubab. Local residents used a bulldozer to bury the migrants in a mass grave.

An unnamed official said that the capsized boat was one of two which were travelling in convoy.

The first boat, holding the 60 immigrants, capsized while the second boat, carrying 45 migrants, was captured and those on board were arrested.

This week, Yemen's Ministry of the Interior released a statement saying that up to 2,500 African immigrants arrived in Yemen in May via boats from Somalia.

This influx has led to fears within the country that some Somali members of al-Shabaab may be disguising themselves as immigrants to sneak into the country, which already acts as a haven for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants.