Death toll from Tunisian migrant boat accident rises to 112

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The number of illegal immigrants killed after their boat sank off the southeastern coast of Tunisia on Sunday has risen to 112, according to the UNs’ migration agency.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) updated the death toll on its Twitter account on Tuesday.

The ill-fated boat was packed with about 180 migrants, including 80 from other African countries, local media had reported earlier.

A total of 68 illegal immigrants — 60 Tunisians and eight foreigners — were rescued by the coastguard.

The spokesman of the Interior Ministry, Khalifa Chibani, said on Monday that Tunisian security forces intercepted eight individuals involved in planning the case off the island of Kerkennah on Saturday evening.

Tunisia has become an important new route for migrants trying to reach Europe in the past year, and Kerkennah is known as one of the main illegal gateways.

According to IOM, since the beginning of this year, about 1,910 Tunisian migrants have reached Italy by sea.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights said in a study that 9,329 Tunisians attempted to cross the Mediterranean in 2017, with 34 per cent intercepted by Tunisian maritime forces.

So far, no less than 900 illegal immigrants have been prevented from crossing Tunisian maritime borders since the beginning of this year’s Ramadan, which began on May 17, according to the Interior Ministry.