Rescuers search for survivors on the beach after two boats carrying migrants capsized off the shore near Godoria, in northeast Djibouti. Picture: International Organization for Migration via AP

Nairobi  - At least 43 migrants have drowned after two boats capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday.

The UN organization had previously counted only 28 recovered bodies.

"We are expecting the death toll to be much higher than that," IOM spokesman Joel Millman told dpa.

More than 130 migrants were on the boats when they overturned on Tuesday off Godoria, in the north-east of the small Horn of Africa nation, according to the IOM.

Millman said the two boats that set off from the port of Obock were probably carrying mostly Ethiopians and were likely headed to Yemen.

Djibouti has become a major migration route, and thousands of irregular migrants use it as both a country of destination and transit on their journey to the Arabian Peninsula, according to the IOM.

More than 700 migrants have died in the past five years during boat journeys from the Horn of African to Yemen, according to the UN organization.

dpa