Tunisia migrant death toll rises to 48 – Defence Ministry

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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 48, according to the Ministry of Defence.

A total of 75 people have been rescued people so far, including 60 Tunisians, five from Sub-Saharan Africa, two Moroccans and one Libyan, said Rachid Bouhawala, the press officer at the Ministry of Defense.

Relief operations are continuing in coordination with the army as well as units of the Maritime Guard and civil protection.

No fewer than 180 illegal immigrants were aboard the boat stranded off the island of Kerkennah on the southeastern coast of the country, including 80 African nationalities.

Kerkennah is known as one of the main illegal gateways to Europe from Tunisia.

Since the beginning of this year, about 1,910 Tunisian migrants have reached Italy by sea, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

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.