Tunisia’s coast guard recovered 10 bodies from a migrant boat which sank near the coast, the second vessel to sink within hours off Tunisia, bringing the death toll to 29, according to a security official.
Houssem Jebabli, a national guard official, said that the boat sank off the coast of Mahdia, without giving further details.
Earlier on Sunday, a human rights group said at least 19 refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa had drowned off the coast of Tunisia while trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy.
Romdhane Ben Amor, an official at the Forum for Social and Economic Rights (FTDES), told the Reuters news agency that the deaths also occurred when a boat carrying the refugees and migrants sank off the coast of Mahdia after a journey that started from Sfax beaches.
He said the Tunisian coast guard was able to rescue five people from the boat.
Tunisian authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Reports of the deaths came as Italy’s ANSA news agency said more than 2,000 asylum seekers had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa within 24 hours.
The agency described the arrivals on Saturday as a “record”.
In the last four days, at least five boats carrying refugees and migrants have sunk off the southern city of Sfax, leaving 67 missing and nine dead.
The coast guard previously said it had stopped about 80 boats heading for Italy in the past four days and detained more than 3,000 people, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries.
The coast near Sfax has become a major departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.
The latest disaster comes amid a campaign of arrests by Tunisian authorities of undocumented sub-Saharan Africans.
According to United Nations data, at least 12,000 people who reached Italy this year set sail from Tunisia, compared with 1,300 in the same period of 2022.
Previously, Libya was the main departure point for refugees and migrants.