|Date: Jun 4, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|At least 48 migrants dead after boat sinks off Tunisian coast|
|Agence France Presse|
ISTANBUL/TUNIS: The bodies of 48 migrants have been recovered off Tunisia’s southern coast, the country’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, revising upward an earlier government death toll. Ealier, Defense Ministry spokesman Rachid Bouhoula reported that as of 1 p.m. (1200 GMT), “35 bodies were recovered and 68 migrants rescued.”
Tunisians and seven foreigners were among the survivors, including nationals from Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco and Cameroon, according to the Defense Ministry.
The Interior Ministry reported a distress call Saturday night at 10:45 p.m. from “a fishing boat about to sink” with migrants on board.
“The coastguard and the navy continue their search with the support of a military plane,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
“Units of the Sfax Marine Guard and the Navy went to the boat which was five nautical miles from the Kerkennah Islands and 16 nautical miles from the city of Sfax,” the ministry added.
Tunisians and migrants of other nationalities regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe, but departures peaked last September.
According to non-governmental organizations, the uptick reflected frustration among young people hard hit by unemployment.
In October, a collision between a migrant boat and a Tunisian military ship left at least 44 dead, in what Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called a “national disaster.”
Nine migrants, including six children, seeking to head to Europe in a speedboat also drowned Sunday when the vessel sank off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
The boat hit trouble off the Demre district of Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya province, a popular holiday spot, Anadolu reported.
Five were rescued while one person was still missing. Two adults, one woman and six children lost their lives, it said.
The Dogan news agency said that they were seeking to head illegally to Europe but their planned route was not immediately clear. The nearest EU territory is the small Greek island of Kastellorizo to the west, which lies off the Turkish resort of Kas.
The nationalities of those on board have yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, Spain’s maritime rescue service said it was able to rescue 240 people from 11 small boats attempting the perilous crossing from African shores to Spain between Saturday and Sunday.
But it added that one person had apparently drowned while trying to make the crossing. The service said that its agents spotted a body floating underwater after their rescue ship had saved 41 migrants from a sinking smugglers’ boat.
The U.N. says that at least 660 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year.
During the first four months of 2018, a total of 22,439 migrants reached European shores, with 4,409 of them arriving in Spain.