Twenty bodies of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were recovered Thursday off the east coast of Tunisia after their makeshift boat sank, the Tunisian Ministry of Defense has said.
Five other migrants who were on the boat were rescued, ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP, adding that the navy was continuing search operations.
The boat was carrying around 40 to 50 people, Zekri said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni said the migrants left from Sidi Mansour, in the Tunisian region of Sfax, in an attempt to reach the Italian coast.
Despite the pandemic, the Tunisian coast remains a major departure point for migrants and asylum-seekers hoping for a better life in Europe.
Earlier this month, the Tunisian navy rescued 93 migrants off Sfax.
Between January and mid-September this year, 8,581 people were intercepted as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from the Tunisian coast, according to the Interior Ministry.
A majority were Tunisians fleeing their country’s prolonged economic crisis.