IOM: Scores killed as migrant boat sinks off Tunisian coast

A boat carrying scores of migrants has sunk in the Mediterranean off the Tunisian coast, killing at least 50 people, according to the United Nations migration agency.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said sixteen people survived the shipwreck on Friday, which marked one of the deadliest incidents involving migrants trying to reach Europe by sea this year.

“Another tragedy in the Mediterranean,” the organisation said.

Only four bodies have been recovered from the scene so far, according to the IOM, with search operations for the others ongoing.

According to reports by Tunisia’s state-run TAP news agency, the boat carrying as many as 70 migrants sank 40 nautical miles off the coast of Sfax, some 270km south of the capital, Tunis. Fishing boats rescued the survivors, TAP said.

The IOM said the vessel took to the sea from neighboring Libya, where renewed warfare between rival factions has gripped the capital, Tripoli, in recent weeks.

An IOM official told The Associated Press news agency those on board included Bangladeshi and Moroccan nationals, among others.

Libya’s western coast is a main departure point for migrants from across Africa hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers, though numbers have dropped due to an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

The Mediterranean is the “world’s deadliest sea crossing” according to the United Nations refugee agency, with one person in 14 dying on the route from Libya to Europe last year.


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