From file: Several boats have set off from Zarzis recently, in September 18 people drowned off the coast after leaving the town | Photo: DW
From file: Several boats have set off from Zarzis recently, in September 18 people drowned off the coast after leaving the town | Photo: DW

Reports suggest that four people died and two are still missing after an inflatable boat carrying migrants sank shortly after departing Tunisia for Europe.

The boat reportedly sank Monday (November 14) in bad weather about 60 kilometers off the Tunisian coast.

According to reports, including by the news agency Associated Press (AP), the boat is thought to have been carrying 16 people and was headed to Italy.

The Tunisian coast guard said it rescued ten people and recovered four bodies from the sea. On Tuesday the Tunisian coast guard and navy searched the area around the shipwreck in the hope of finding the two people reported missing.

Multiple shipwrecks

Just last week, on November 9, the organization Alarm Phone, a distress hotline for people in distress at sea, tweeted about a very similar shipwreck involving 16 people on a boat that sank just two kilometers from the shore.

Ten people were reported to have been rescued, and at least two bodies were found in initial searches.

In October, 18 migrants died in an incident off the coast from the southern Tunisian port of Zarzis. In September at least eight people died after their boat capsized off the port of Chebba, AP reports.

Arrivals in Italy

According to Italian government figures published by the country’s interior ministry and last updated on November 15, more than 92,000 migrants have so far disembarked on Italy’s coasts since the beginning of the year. 17,295 of them are registered as Tunisian nationals.

As the conflict in Libya worsened in recent years, Tunisia has increasingly become a jumping off point for other migrants, coming from Egypt, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa predominantly, all hoping to reach Europe.

Last week a spokesperson for the Tunisian National Guard, Hossam El-Din El-Jebali, said that National Guard units had rescued at least 402 people -- mostly Afrian nationals -- and "thwarted 11 illegal immigration operations," reported the English-language news portal Middle East Monitor (MEM).

According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), more than 544 people have been reported missing or dead in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. Those figures were contained in a report that FTDES published on October 26.

The UN Migration Agency, IOM’s Missing Migrants project includes all those missing across the whole Central Mediterranean as 1,365 so far in 2022.

The Anadolu Agency reported on November 14, in French, that they had brought at least 271 migrants back to shore this week after their boats got into trouble off shore en route to Europe.

With AP, Anadolu Agency


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