At least two migrants including a child died when their boat capsized on Saturday shortly after leaving the Tunisian coast, the coastguard said.
The boat, carrying 20 Tunisians, went down at 2:00 am local time (0100 GMT) when it was 120 meters (395 feet) off the coast of the southeastern province of Gabes.
“Two bodies have been recovered, one of a 20-year-old man and the other of an infant,” the coast guard said in a statement.
Thirteen others were rescued, including the child’s parents. Five passengers are missing and search operations are ongoing, the statement added.
A similar tragedy occurred off the coast of Tunisia on Monday, when a boat carrying migrants sank near the eastern city of Sfax, leaving 11 people dead.
Sfax serves as a launching port for migrants from African countries to begin their perilous sea journeys to Europe, via the Italian island of Lampedusa.
More than 1,800 people have died this year in shipwrecks on the central Mediterranean migration route, the world’s deadliest – more than double the number last year, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Migrant boat sank in the English Channel
Once migrants reach southern Europe, they sometimes go to richer countries such as Germany and the UK. Migrants can also make the dangerous journey from France to Britain.
French maritime officials reported on Saturday that a boat, full of migrants and refugees, capsized in the English Channel, killing six people.
UK media reported that the victims were all Afghan nationals, who were in critical condition when found and later pronounced dead.
About 65 people are estimated to have boarded the ship for the UK and two people may still be lost at sea, the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said.
The English Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes but at its narrowest point, it separates France and Britain by 20 miles (33 kilometers).
This year, the number of migrants crossing the Channel fell by around 15% to 15,826 on Thursday, partly due to a joint UK-French coastal monitoring operation. But since 2018, more than 100,000 migrants have crossed the sea in small boats.
Britain passed a new law earlier this year to try to curb the arrival of small migrant boats, deporting those who arrive illegally in their home country or a safe third country. .
But plans to fly some people to Rwanda were shot down by the appeals court and are now being appealed to the Supreme Court.
The passage of people trying to enter and around Europe is often facilitated by smugglers, who can exploit their desperation for payment. Migrants are often placed in overloaded, unseaworthy boats, which are prone to sinking, especially in stormy conditions.
Hundreds of migrants saved by French charity
The French NGO SOS Mediterranee said on Friday that the Ocean Viking ship had rescued more than 600 migrants stranded at sea in the past two days.
The rescue team said 623 people were taken in “unfit small boats.”
Among those who survived were nationals of countries such as Sudan, Guinea and Bangladesh.
Sudan in particular has witnessed armed conflict that has driven thousands of refugees from the country.
The majority of migrants are taken by boat on the sea route between Lampedusa and Sfax.
mm, wd/ab (AFP, dpa)