At least 43 migrants died when a ship sank off the coast of Tunisia while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, while 84 others were rescued, the Tunisian Red Crescent announced Saturday.
The boat had set off from the coastal city of Zuwara in northwestern Libya, and was carrying about 127 migrants from Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Bangladesh, according to the Tunisian humanitarian organization.
In recent months, several drowning incidents occurred off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempts to cross from Tunisia and Libya to Europe via Italy as the weather improved.
“The navy rescued 84 migrants, while 43 others drowned in the boat, which set off from the Libyan city of Zuwara towards Europe,” said Mongi Selim, an official with the Tunisian Red Crescent.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in recent years, many fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Arrivals to Italy, one of the main migration routes to Europe, have fallen in recent years, but the numbers have risen again this year 2021.
Nearly 19,800 migrants have arrived since the beginning of this year, compared to just over 6,700 in the same period last year, according to Italian Interior Ministry figures.