Migrant boat washes ashore in Israel, fate of passengers unknown

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A rubber boat washed up on a beach in Israel on Sunday with no one on board, only what appeared to be the belongings of would-be migrants.

Israeli authorities said they found the dinghy along the Mediterranean coast near the city of Netanya with nothing but a messy pile of personal items, food, water and travel documents, including three from Somalia.

Police said they were searching the waters nearby for signs of survivors and released a photograph of the boat. What looked like clothing, an air pump and several makeshift, inflatable lifebuoys were among the items that covered the boat's floor.

The travel documents are still being investigated, the police said.

According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration, more than 187,000 people crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, and the group has recorded 2,093 deaths along the central Mediterranean route.

The migrants often make the perilous crossing in small, unstable boats. Many come from Africa, fleeing conflict or in search of a better life in Europe.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Alison Williams)