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Tunisia says 13 migrants from Sudan killed, 27 missing after boat made of scrap metal sinks off coast

Dozens killed in migrant shipwreck
Shipwreck kills dozens of migrants off Italian coast 01:57

Tunis — Thirteen Sudanese migrants died on Thursday after their boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia, while 27 others remain missing, a court spokesperson told AFP. Farid Ben Jha, the spokesman for the court in the coastal city of Monastir, said only two of the 42 migrants who were on board the boat survived after leaving from Jebiniana, a small town near Sfax.

He said an investigation was opened, adding that the migrants were likely "exploited in a human trafficking case or in the formation of a criminal group to reach Europe illegally."

Illegal immigration attempt prevented with an operation in Tunisia
Irregular migrants are seen in a metal boat during an operation by the Tunisian National Guard against migrants attempting to reach Europe illegally by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Sfax, Tunisia, Aug. 12, 2023. Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty

The victims were all asylum seekers from war-torn Sudan who had registered with the United Nations' refugee agency. They boarded a fragile metal boat made of scraps hastily welded together, according to the investigation's first findings.

The search for the missing passengers was still underway.

Tunisia and Libya are the main departure points for thousands of irregular migrants who risk their lives every year in the hopes of reaching better lives in Europe.

Death in the Mediterranean 15:19

During the first 11 months of 2023, Tunisian authorities intercepted 69,963 irregular migrants, more than double the figure for the same period in 2022, according to statistics shared by the National Guard.

More than 2,270 people died attempting to cross the central Mediterranean in 2023, a 60 percent increase on the previous year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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