29 dead, 11 rescued off Tunisia in migrant boat sinkings

Tunis (AP) — Boat sinkings off the coast of Tunisia over the weekend killed at least 29 people from countries in sub-Saharan Africa who were trying make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, the Tunisian National Guard said Sunday.

Tunisian fishermen recovered 19 bodies, said National Guard spokesman Houssameddine Jebabli. The Coast Guard also recovered eight bodies on Saturday night and rescued 11 survivors who’d been aboard a boat that went down, he said.

Two other bodies were recovered in waters off the Tunisian port of Sfax, he said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many more people might also have been aboard boats that sank. A Tunisian NGO that tracks migration issues said five boats are believed to have foundered in the past two days off Sfax and that 67 people remain unaccounted for.

People fleeing conflict or poverty routinely take boats from Tunisian shores toward Europe, even though the central Mediterranean is the most dangerous migration route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many are from sub-Saharan Africa.