Tunisia says sinking boat leaves two migrants dead, many missing

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FILE PHOTO: Illegal immigrants, guided by officials are seen at the port after the boat caught and rescued by Tunisian coastal guards in Zarzis, Tunisia on August 23, 2015. (Photo by Tasnim Nasri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ZARZIS, TUNISIA – AUGUST 23: immigrants, guided by officials are seen at the port after the boat caught and rescued by Tunisian coastal guards in Zarzis, Tunisia on August 23, 2015. (Photo by Tasnim Nasri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Two bodies were recovered and seven people rescued after a boat carrying dozens of would-be migrants went down off the Tunisian coast on Sunday, the National Guard said.

“A boat carrying illegal migrants was shipwrecked off Sfax… two bodies, of a woman and a baby, were found, and seven people were rescued,” spokesman Housemeddine Jebabli told AFP.

According to initial estimates, 30 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were on board the vessel, Jebabli said, adding that a search was underway for those missing.

He did not indicate where they had departed from.

The number of would-be migrants attempting to cross to Europe from Tunisia sharply from a peak in 2011.

But it began rising again in 2017, driven partly by economic woes and inequality in the North African country, almost a decade after a revolution that many hoped would bring change.

The interior ministry said Sunday it had stopped 32 attempts to cross the Mediterranean and arrested 262 people between the start of the year and mid-September. Two people were from sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the same period, 8,581 people were intercepted while trying to reach Europe by sea from Tunisia, the ministry said. They included 2,104 foreigners.

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