At least 43 migrants including Bangladeshi nationals drowned in a shipwreck off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, while another 84 were rescued, the Tunisian Red Crescent told Reuters on Saturday.
The boat had set off from Zuwara, on Libya’s northwest coast, carrying migrants from Bangladesh, Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea, the humanitarian organisation said.
In recent months, several drowning incidents have occurred off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings to Europe from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy as the weather has improved.
“The navy rescued 84 migrants and 43 others drowned in a boat that set off from Libya’s Zuwara towards Europe,” Red Crescent official Mongi Slim said.
Meanwhile, Tunisian Defence Ministry said the country’s navy rescued “84 illegal migrants of various nationalities” including from Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan, according to AFP.
The survivors picked up off Zarzis were aged between three and 40, the ministry said, without giving any number for those missing.
It said that the boat had departed the port of Zuwara, in northwestern Libya during the night between Monday and Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Arrivals in Italy – one of the main migrant routes into Europe – had been falling in recent years, but numbers picked up again in 2021.
Almost 19,800 migrants have arrived since the beginning of the year against just over 6,700 in the same period last year, Italian interior Ministry figures show.