At least 39 die, 165 rescued as two migrant boats sink off Tunisia

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dpa/GNA – At least 39 migrants from Africa died when two boats sank off the Tunisian coast near the city of Sfax, the Tunisian Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

Another 165 migrants, including two Tunisians, were rescued, the ministry said in a statement.

The migrants were on two boats heading for the Italian coast, a Tunisian Navy officer told dpa. Rescue operations are under way to find other survivors.

Earlier in the day, Tunisian national guard spokesman Houssameddine Jbabli told dpa that the bodies of 14 migrants were retrieved from the sea and 139 other people were rescued.

This is only the latest tragedy claiming the lives of migrants off the Tunisian coast, which has turned into a launch pad for thousands of people, including Tunisians, seeking to reach Europe.

At least 20 migrants died after their boat sank near the coastal city of Sfax in December.

At least 12,000 migrants have reached Italy on boats from Tunisia in 2020, according to the non-governmental Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights.

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