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Tunisia: Five people die, 10 missing after boat sinks off coast

The coastguard rescued 20 people who had been on the overcrowded boat which was heading to Italy on Friday
People from sub-Saharan Africa sit in a makeshift boat that was being used to make its way towards the Italian coast, rescued by Tunisian authorities off the coast of Tunisia's central city of Sfax on 4 October 2022 (AFP/file photo)

At least five Africans died and another 10 were missing after a boat sank off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a judicial official told Reuters on Saturday.

The coastguard rescued 20 people who had been on the overcrowded boat, which sank off Louata in Sfax region on Friday, the official said.

The coastline of Sfax has become a major departure point for people fleeing poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East for Europe.

In recent months, hundreds of people have drowned off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy.

In light of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis in Tunisia, more than 18,000 Tunisians travelled by boat to Europe in 2022, according to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights.

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