Two boats carrying irregular migrants sank off the coast of Sfax in southern Tunisia, killing at least 39 on Tuesday. The Tunisian defence ministry stated that the accident occurred while the immigrants were trying to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa, adding that all the dead people were from sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Reuters, the ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri said that searches for more survivors continue off the coast of Sfax as the coastguard already rescued 165 others.
"On Tuesday morning, a marine unit rescued 70 illegal migrants of African nationalities, including Tunisians, who were seeking help at the sinking site, north of Al-Ataya [an area on Kerkennah Island]," the Defense Ministry said in another statement.
Huge masses of immigrants absconding from conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive as the coastline near the Tunisian port city of Sfax has become a major exit point towards Europe.
One of the hardest crises the Tunisian authorities have had to deal with was in 2019 when 90 African migrants from Libya drowned after their boat sank in the Tunisian coast on their way to Europe.