Life vests recovered after a migrant boat sinking | Photo: Reuters
Life vests recovered after a migrant boat sinking | Photo: Reuters

At least 50 people disappeared, feared drowned, off the coast of Tunisia. Authorities said that 33 others were rescued by workers from an oil platform in the Mediterranean Sea.

A boat carrying migrants capsized off Sfax on Tunisia’s southeast coast on Monday, May 17. The AP news agency reported that a spokesperson for the Tunisian defense ministry, Mohamed Zekri, said that more than 50 people drowned in the incident. He said that workers on an oil platform saw the boat going under and alerted authorities, and navy units were sent in to search the water for missing people. The nationalities of the people who died were not immediately clear.

Thirty-three people, all from Bangladesh, survived the accident, according to a spokesperson for the Mediterranean coordination office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Flavio Di Giacomo. On Tuesday, he tweeted that the migrants’ boat had left from Zawara, Libya, on Sunday.


An IOM spokesperson in Tunisia, Riadh Kadhi, said the survivors reported that the boat had been carrying about 90 passengers when it left Libya.

Search and rescue

Tunisia's TAP news agency reported that navy units rescued another 113 migrants from Bangladesh, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa on Monday afternoon as their boat was about to sink off Djerba, an island off the Tunisian coast.

The IOM said that it was providing humanitarian assistance and shelter.

Map of Tunisia with neighboring countries Algeria and Libya as well as Tunisia's Kerkennah Islands and the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily | Source: InfoMigrants
Map of Tunisia with neighboring countries Algeria and Libya as well as Tunisia's Kerkennah Islands and the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily | Source: InfoMigrants

So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020, the agency said.

At least five migrant boats have sunk in the last two of months off Tunisia. Earlier this month, 17 migrants drowned and two were rescued after their boat sank off the coast. 

 

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