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At least 35 migrants killed as boat sinks off Tunisia

Rescue operation including military aircraft and divers rescues at least 67 others 30 kilometers from the shore
Migrants try to reach Europe on packed boats across the Mediterranean (Reuters)

At least 35 migrants were killed when their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia on Sunday, Tunisia's Defence Ministry said. 

The sinking ship was discovered 30 kilometres from Tunisia's shore by the national guard and navy units after they received a distress call at midnight Saturday. 

The rescue operation, which has involved military aircraft and divers, has saved at least 67 people.

There were around 180 migrants aboard the ship, with 80 of them from other African countries, according to security officials.

The incident comes on the same day that nine people died, with another missing, after a speedboat carrying 15 refugees sank off the Turkish coast. Six children were among the dead.

Tunisians and migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe, but departures peaked last September. 

According to NGOs, the uptick reflected frustration among young people hard hit by unemployment.

In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a "national disaster".