According to the Tunisian coastguard, two citizens, including an eight-month-old infant, died after their boat sank Saturday (August 12) soon after leaving the country’s shores. This comes amid a spike in the number of Europe-bound central Mediterranean migrant crossings from North Africa which is said to be the world’s deadliest, according to the United Nations.
Migrant boat sinks off Tunisian coast
The vessel was said to have been carrying 20 Tunisians when it sank around 2:00 am (local time) and around 120 metres from the country’s coast in Gabes, said the officials. “Two bodies have been recovered, one of a 20-year-old man and the other of an infant,” said the North African country’s coastguard, in a statement, as per AFP.
It added that around five people were still missing and that search operations were ongoing for them. Additionally, the Tunisian coast guard managed to rescue 13 others. Meanwhile, officials in the city of Gabes have launched an investigation to “determine the circumstances of this tragedy”.
Mouhamed Borhen Chamtouri, a commander of the coast guard in Sfax, told AFP on Thursday (August 10) that this month the force had intercepted about 3,000 migrants in just 10 days out of which, 90 per cent were from other parts of Africa.
This comes as the eastern Tunisian port city of Sfax, which is located about 130 kilometres from the Italian island of Lampedusa has become a key port for Europe-bound migrant boats.
Charity boat rescues 76 migrants in the Mediterranean
In a separate incident, a charity EMERGENCY, said that they managed to rescue around 76 migrants on an overloaded wooden boat in the Mediterranean, on Saturday (August 12).
According to the charity, the migrant boat was headed for the southern Italian port of Naples with seven women and 24 children among the 76 people and was picked up by their rescue ship named ‘Life Support’ in international waters in the Maltese Search and Rescue zone on Friday night.
It added that the 12-metre boat carrying the migrants had set sail from Libya late on Thursday and those rescued were from Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Syria. Italian authorities helped to coordinate the rescue and the charity boat is expected to reach Naples on Monday.
Separately, another boat carrying 59 migrants was rescued by Open Arms’ Astral rescue yacht docked in Porto Empedocle in southern Sicily on Saturday. Among those rescued were five children, two of whom were only a few weeks old, reported Reuters.
(With inputs from agencies)
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