Beirut: A boat with around three dozen Syrian refugees on board sank off the coast of Lebanon on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned, security sources said.

The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180km away, when it foundered off the coast of northern Lebanon, the sources said. Three more of the people on boat were in a serious condition in hospital.

Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria’s civil war, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.