Over 50 migrants dead after Italy-bound ship sinks off Tunisia

TUNIS: More than 50 people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, died when a boat carrying migrants bound for Italy sank off Tunisia, a health official said Thursday in an updated toll.

Another 17 bodies were recovered, raising the total to 52 since the authorities were alerted by fishermen near the port city of Sfax on Tuesday.

At least 24 women were among the victims.

Burials were held Thursday for some of those killed, said Sfax region’s health director Ali Ayadi.

The boat’s captain, a 48-year-old Tunisian, was among the dead, according to the authorities.

Witnesses had told authorities the victims were believed to be passengers on a boat that set off for Italy a week ago with 53 people on board.

Illegal crossings from Tunisia to Europe jumped by more than 150% in January to April compared with the same period last year, according to the UN’s refugee agency.