Skip to main content

Bodies recovered after migrant boat capsizes off coast of Tunisia

Thirteen people, including three children, have drowned while seven have been rescued, say authorities
Tunisian coastguards patrol the area off Tunisia's northern town of Bizerte on 30 March 2017 (AFP)

At least 13 people have been confirmed drowned after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Tunisia on Sunday night, while nine people are still missing.

The bodies were recovered Monday night, a court official said, following the incident, which took place off the coast of Sfax in central Tunisia.

Seven people have been rescued.

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.

Number of migrants landing in Italy more than doubles in past year
Read More »

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

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

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

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 a better living. 

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.