(AP) ROME — According to the Italian Red Cross and rescue organisations, 41 people are thought to have perished after a boat carrying migrants sank off Tunisia in choppy seas, citing four survivors who were rescued and brought to land on Wednesday.
The survivors claimed to have departed Sfax, Tunisia, on a metal boat on August 3 with a total of 45 persons. A large wave toppled the ship about six hours into their journey, according to RAI state television.
The four people managed to clamber onto an empty boat nearby and survive using inner tubes, according to a statement from the Red Cross. This is proof of the numerous boats leaving from Sfax as well as the recent severe seas that pounded the area and led to( several other capsizings.
The four survivors were seen in photos obtained by Sea-Watch’s monitoring aircraft of the scene as they approached the commercial tanker Rimona, which was flying the Maltese flag, and waved for assistance from the boat. According to Paul Wagner of Sea-Watch, the migrants saved by the Rimona were subsequently loaded onto a boat from the Italian coast guard and transported to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday.
Frontex, the border agency of the European Union, reported that it had discovered a boat drifting in the Libyan search and rescue area and “informed all national rescue coordination centres in the region” as well as making a mayday call given the emergency. Sea-Watch, which was flying over the area when the ship was detected, alerted the Rimona, the nearest commercial ship at the time, Wagner said.
The survivors were discovered inside the Libyan search and rescue zone approximately 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Lampedusa and 66 kilometres (40 miles) from Tunisia, according to the GPS coordinates provided by Sea-Watch.
According to the International Organisation of Migration, the shipwreck increased the number of persons who have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean, the busiest and riskiest migration route in the world, to more than 1,800.
The four survivors, who are receiving care in Lampedusa, were in fair health, according to the Red Cross, and they would be moved to the Italian mainland soon. According to the group, three of the four claim to be juveniles while the fourth is a male adult, and they are all from Guinea and Ivory Coast. However, according to U.N. agencies, there was just one minor among them.
Dr. Adrian Chiaramonte, a doctor in Lampedusa who treated the four, said they had “small wounds” and were dehydrated, but “nothing major.”
One boat reportedly observed them but continued to travel. According to Chiaramonte, who spoke to RaiNews24, they were saved an hour later after seeing a helicopter and an oil tanker. The survivors said that in total, 15 people had basic life preservers. There have been no bodies found.
Over the weekend, rough seas caused a number of shipwrecks and dramatic rescue operations to save survivors. Numerous migrants were saved by Italian officials from the water and rocky rocks off Lampedusa, but at least 30 migrants were reported missing by survivors of overturned ships. Back in Sfax, eight bodies washed ashore.
Historically, the principal starting point for migrant smuggling activities was along the lawless coastline of Libya. However, in recent months, the port city of Sfax on Tunisia’s eastern coast has emerged as the primary departure point for migrants sailing small boats to Italy and other areas of Europe, most of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa.
The fact that Tunisian authorities are increasingly cracking down on Black migrants may have contributed to recent exits. Unfounded claims that sub-Saharan migrants are involved in a scheme to change the country’s identity and demographics have been advocated by Tunisia’s president Kais Saied, escalating tensions between natives and Black foreigners.
Numerous sub-Saharan migrants have apparently been abducted from coastal cities since early July and abandoned in desolate border regions with Libya or Algeria. Both of these nations have a lengthy history of grave human rights abuses, mistreatment of immigrants, and mass deportations.
Small groups are driven back into the desert border regions with Libya and Algeria, the interior minister of Tunisia has acknowledged, but he has denied maltreatment.
Authorities in Tunisia estimate that the Sfax region is currently home to about 17,000 people from sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 93,000 migrants have entered Italy so far this year, the Interior Ministry reports, more than twice as many as the 45,000 who entered during the same period in 2022. Guinea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, and Tunisia are the top four countries represented among those who are arriving. Giorgia Meloni, the premier of Italy, has rallied the EU to assist her in pressuring Tunisia to tighten down on people smuggling, but the boats continue to leave port. Meloni’s right-wing coalition government in Italy includes the anti-immigration League party.