Thirteen drowned off Tunisia as migrant boat sinks

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(Photo: NSRI)
(Photo: NSRI)

More bodies were recovered on Monday the night after a migrant boat sank off Tunisia, taking the total drowned to 13 with nine still missing, a court official said.

Seven people were rescued after the boat sank on Sunday in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sfax in central Tunisia.

The boat was carrying 29 people, including two Tunisians and people from various sub-Saharan African countries, Sfax court spokesman Mourad Turki said, quoting survivors.

Their nationalities and exact point of departure were not immediately known, and the coast guard and navy were continuing their search.

Those drowned included three children, including a baby less than six months old.

The body of one of the two Tunisians, a man from Sfax, was also recovered.

ALSO READ | Tunisia president backs hanging amid uproar over woman's murder

The number of would-be migrants trying to cross to Europe from Tunisia has been on the rise since 2017, largely driven by economic woes in the North African country, almost a decade after a revolution that many had hoped would bring change.

The interior ministry said it foiled 32 attempts to cross the Mediterranean and arrested 262 people between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

At the risk of their lives, thousands of migrants regularly attempt to cross the Mediterranean in clandestine boats, trying to reach Europe where they hope to find work and better lives.

Since the start of 2020, more than 8 500 people have been intercepted trying to reach Europe by sea from Tunisia, including 2 104 non-Tunisians, the ministry said.

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