The bodies of 20 people have been recovered from a shipwreck in waters off Tunisia. A search is underway for 30 others believed to have set off for Italy last Thursday night.
Tunisian coast guard officials on Tuesday recovered the bodies of 20 people they said were migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who had drowned after a shipwreck off the country's east coast.
Mourad Tourki, a spokesman for the court in the coastal city of Sfax, said an investigation was underway into the incident, which happened off the Kerkennah Islands.
A boat carrying 53 people left from Sfax last week, headed for Italy, Tourki said. He said fishermen later discovered the bodies and alerted authorities.
A search is underway for the rest of the passengers.
More people trying to leave from Tunisia
Last month, at least one person drowned and six were missing after another migrant shipwreck off the Tunisian coast. Over 80 people were rescued.
According to the UN refugee agency, the number of attempts to reach the Italian coast from Tunisia was significantly higher in the first four months of 2020 than in the same period last year.
•••• ➤ Also read: Tunisia prevents migrant departures to Italy
Tunisia is both a transit country for migrants from other African countries and a source of Europe-bound migrants.
Last week, a Tunisian National Guard spokesman, Houssemeddine Jebabli, said that 140 migrants had been arrested for being in the country "illegally."