At least 57 people died at the weekend after two migrant boats sank in the Mediterranean, according to authorities.
Forty-eight bodies were recovered and 68 people were rescued after a migrant boat sank off the Tunisian coast, official news agency TAP reported Sunday, citing figures from the Defence Ministry.
The boat, which was carrying 180 people, sank Saturday night five nautical miles (nine kilometres) away from the Kerkennah Islands and 16 nautical miles away from the coast of Sfax city.
The victims were mostly Tunisians, but there were also eight foreigners, including from neighbouring Morocco.
Six foreigners – two from the Ivory Coast, two from Cameroon and two from Morocco – were among those rescued, the Defence Ministry said, adding that the boat likely sank because it was overloaded. Rescue operations were suspended when night fell.
The Tunisian coast has turned into a launch pad for thousands of migrants seeking to reach Italy after controls were tightened in neighbouring Libya.
Many migrants crossing the Mediterranean head for the Italian island of Sicily, where new hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said at the weekend that he would stop “the death boats.”
At a rally in northern Italy earlier on Saturday, he told supporters that the “good life is over” for migrants and suggested they “pack their bags.”
Meanwhile, another boat sank off the coast of the Turkish province of Antalya. Nine people drowned, including six children, according to the Turkish coastguard, while five people were rescued.
There were no details on the nationality of the migrants.
The European Commission said recently that the number of migrants crossing illegally in to the European Union from Turkey had risen significantly in the first months of the year.