Dozens of migrants feared dead after boat capsizes off Tunisia

2019-07-08 18:17
Malian migrant Soleiman Coulibaly (L), who was rescued after the boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian Coast. (Fathi Nasri, AFP)

Malian migrant Soleiman Coulibaly (L), who was rescued after the boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian Coast. (Fathi Nasri, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A boat carrying at least 86 refugees and migrants has capsized off the coast of Tunisia with most feared drowned. 

Some of the four initial survivors told the Tunisian coastguard on Thursday the boat sank off the town of Zarzis, Tunisian Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters news agency.

Tunisian fishermen came across the sinking boat and were able to pull four survivors out on Wednesday night, but could not find any of the other passengers, said Lorena Lando, head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Tunisia.

Eighty-two people remain missing in the incident, which comes a day after a deadly air attack on a Libyan detention centre killed at least 44 migrants.

Al Jazeera's Sarah Khairat, reporting from a refugee camp in Zarzis where the survivors were brought, said the vessel was heading from the west of Libya to Europe when it capsized. The four survivors were all men - three from Mali and one from the Ivory Coast.

The Ivory Coast national later died and two of the others are in hospital.

Slim told dpa news agency the boat set sail from Libya on Monday.

Earlier this week, another boat from Libya made it to the Tunisian port of Sfax with 65 people on board. 

Libya is one of the main transit countries for migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty as they try to reach Europe.

The war-torn country has become a hub for human trafficking rings that often send migrants off to Europe in vessels that are not seaworthy. 

Between January and June this year, 555 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, according to the IOM.

Last year, there were 924 deaths. The peak came in 2016 when 2 911 people died in the crossing.

Sea rescue

Meanwhile, a sailboat belonging to Italian charity Mediterranea rescued 54 people, including pregnant women and children in distress off the Libyan coast, the charity said on Thursday.

"All 54 survivors have been rescued and are now aboard," Mediterranea tweeted. "Among them 11 women [three pregnant] and 4 children ... Happy to have rescued 54 lives from the hell of Libya. Now we need a safe port."

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini - who has tried to close Italian ports to migrant rescue vessels - swiftly tweeted that Mediterranea's 18-metre sailboat Alex should take those rescued to Tunisia.

"Otherwise we will activate all procedures to prevent Italy being a port of arrival for human traffickers," Salvini said.

Italian authorities last week seized a vessel belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch and arrested its captain after it entered Lampedusa port in Sicily unauthorised with dozens of rescued migrants on board.

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android here now. Get it for your iPhone here.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    tunisia  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.