Published: Sat, May 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Death toll from Tunisia migrant ship disaster rises to 65

Death toll from Tunisia migrant ship disaster rises to 65

The boat left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast on Thursday, according to the Tunisian defense ministry. At least 16 migrants were saved after a fishing boat picked them up, a spokesperson from Tunisia's defence ministry said today.

While the UNHCR said 65 people died, other sources indicated a higher death toll. It was one the deadliest shipwrecks involving migrants trying to reach Europe illegally this year. It said 443 people have reportedly died on unsafe Mediterranean Sea crossings so far this year, compared to 620 deaths for the same period in 2018.

"Another tragedy in the Mediterranean", the IOM said.

The survivors were brought to the coast by the Tunisian Navy and are awaiting permission to disembark.

The UN's International Organisation for Migration said on Friday the boat took to the sea from neighbouring Libya, where renewed warfare between rival factions has gripped the capital Tripoli in the past five weeks.

The vessel capsized about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Sfax, some 270 kilometres south of Tunis.

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Only three bodies have reportedly been recovered from the scene so far, and the navy is searching for others.

16 migrants were rescued around 64 kilometers off the coast of Tunisia.

But since mid-2017, the number of migrant journeys has declined dramatically.

The European Union has been experiencing a large-scale migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing crises in their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Earlier on Friday, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said the United Nations had repeatedly voiced its concerns about the lack of boats to pick up migrants and refugees fleeing from "the horrendous and frightful situation" in Libya.

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