At least 43 migrants drown after boat capsizes off Tunisia

Dozens rescued from stricken vessel which left Libya to cross Mediterranean

Migrants rescued by Tunisia’s national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean  in southern Tunisia on June 27th. File photograph: Fathi Nasri/AFP via Getty Images

Migrants rescued by Tunisia’s national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean in southern Tunisia on June 27th. File photograph: Fathi Nasri/AFP via Getty Images

 

At least 43 migrants drowned off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday, and 84 others were rescued, after their boat capsized overnight, the Tunisian Red Crescent said.

Mongi Slim, head of the organisation, told the Associated Press that the boat, which was carrying 127 migrants, left Libya’s coastal city of Zuwara on Friday to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy.

He said 46 Sudanese, 16 Eritreans and 12 Bengalis were among the migrants.

The defence ministry’s spokesman, Mohamed Zekri, said the 84 migrants were rescued by fishermen. He declined to confirm the drowning of the other migrants.

Libya is a frequent departure point for migrants making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.

Several shipwrecks from smugglers’ boats carrying migrants have taken place in recent weeks, as attempts to reach Europe become more frequent amid warmer summer weather.

Last week, Tunisian coastguards found seven bodies on the beaches of Djerba, an island off the southern coast.

They were buried at the cemetery for migrants in Zarzis, Tunisia, who died in the Mediterranean.

The head of the Red Crescent has made an urgent plea for help for the hundreds of migrants who escaped death, as his organisation has no means to provide housing.

“The three centres in Zarzis are full and cannot shelter more people. We also have 380 other migrants in confinement in Djerba with nowhere to go,” Mr Slim said. – AP