Death toll from Sunday’s ship sink off Tunisia hits 60

The death toll from an incident in which a ship packed with migrants capsized  off Tunisia on Sunday has risen to at least 60, the United Nations migrations agency said.

The overcrowded boat sank near the souther island of Kerkenna.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 100 people were killed or are missing.

“Among the 60 victims transferred to the forensic department at Habib Bourguiba hospital in Sfax, 48 are Tunisians … 12 are non-Tunisian, the identifications are in progress,” chief of mission of the IOM in Tunisia Lorena Lando said in a statement late on Monday.

Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as Libya’s coastguard, aided by armed groups, has tightened controls.

Tunisian authorities, which on Sunday said they had recovered 48 bodies, provided no new figures, but said the coast guard was still searching for dozens of missing migrants.

The IOM said 68 had been rescued – 60 Tunisians, two Moroccans, one Libyan, one Malian, one Cameroonian national and three Ivorians.

IOM also said 1,910 Tunisian migrants reached Italy between 1 January and 30 April, including 39 women and 307 minors, 293 of whom were unaccompanied.

Survivors said the captain had abandoned the boat after it started sinking to escape arrest by the coastguard.