44 people were martyred, while 29 others were injured, al-Massirah said.

At least 31 people died in the incident, news agencies reported, quoting officials in Hudaydah port.

Middle East Eye reported: "Photos from the scene showed bodies of men, women, and children laid out on the ground at a small harbor, covered in pieces of colored fabric".

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said at a news conference in Geneva today that the vessel was hit near the Bab al-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea, and that they are unable to confirm if the attack had been carried out by an Apache helicopter gunship.

The spokesperson for the coalition, General Ahmed al-Asseri, said they did not conduct any operations or have any engagement in the Hodeidah area on Thursday. It did not say who was behind the strike. There was no immediate comment from the coalition.

Abdiker said Friday the attack at around 3 a.m. was "totally unacceptable" and that responsible combatants should have checked who was aboard the boat "before firing on it". The boats were first detected after one was used in an attack January 30 on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea.

A port official in Hodeida, held by Shia Houthi rebels, confirmed the toll.

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Mohammed was not hurt in the attack.

Laurent De Boeck, the head of the International Organization for Migration in the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa, said the United Nations agency believes all those on board the stricken vessel were registered refugees.

UNHCR continues to urge all parties to the conflict in Yemen do their utmost to protect civilians.

The coalition is the only party to the conflict with naval and air forces, and rights groups have documented hundreds of airstrikes in which civilians have been killed. There were 91 survivors, some of whom were hospitalized, he said.

The refugees were on their way from Yemen to Sudan, the unnamed official said.

Despite more than two years of fighting in Yemen, African migrants continue to arrive in the war-torn country, where there is no central authority to prevent them from travelling onward to a better life in neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.