Middle East

Boatload of migrants drown off Tunisia coast: Survivor

Tunisian rescue worker fears scores of bodies may riddle coastline in days ahead

31.08.2017
Boatload of migrants drown off Tunisia coast: Survivor

By Haitham al-Mahdi

TUNIS

A boat teeming with illegal migrants is believed to have sunk off the Tunisian coast, possibly resulting in scores of deaths, Shamseddine Marzouq of the independent Tunisian Red Crescent said Thursday.

“One of the boat’s Nigerian passengers managed to swim ashore near Benguerdan’s Al-Katef Port on Wednesday,” Marzouq told Anadolu Agency.

According to Marzouq, the survivor, who did not give his name, said the boat’s roughly 120 other passengers had all drowned in the sea after the vessel sank due to reasons that remain unclear.

The doomed vessel had set out from Libya’s western city of Zuwara on Monday en route to Italy, said Marzouq, predicting that victims’ bodies would likely soon wash ashore the Tunisian coastline.

If found, he added, bodies would be buried in the “Strangers’ Cemetery” in the Tunisian city of Zarzis.

“This cemetery now teems with the bodies of drowned migrants,” Marzouq lamented. “There’s no more room to bury them.”

Since the collapse of central authority in neighboring Libya in 2011, the North African coast has become a hub for human trafficking and illegal migration.

Hundreds of people have died in recent years while attempting to make the dangerous crossing from Africa to southern Europe.

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