World / Social Issues

Tunisia finds corpses of pregnant migrant and toddler as body count from sinking reaches 16


Tunisia’s Red Crescent said Sunday three more bodies had been retrieved off the country’s coast, including those of a pregnant woman and toddler, days after a boat carrying scores of migrants sank.

“The number of bodies retrieved (from the water) has reached 15,” said Red Crescent official Mongi Slim.

The bodies of a 3-year-old and two women, one pregnant, were recovered Saturday night off the island of Djerba in southern Tunisia, Slim said.

On Saturday the Red Crescent said 12 bodies had been retrieved by the coast guard from waters off southern Tunisia that morning.

Including the corpse of a woman that the National Guard said it found on a beach off Zarzis on Friday, the total number of bodies recovered since the boat sank on July 1 stands at 16.

A Malian survivor told the UN.’s migration agency that 86 people had been on board the dinghy, which capsized.

“People were terrified as water started pouring in, some of them fell into the water. They stayed down there,” survivor Soleiman Coulibaly told AFP.

Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration, tweeted on Thursday that “about 80 migrants are feared dead.

The Red Crescent and the navy said three Malians and an Ivorian were rescued on Wednesday by the coast guard, who had been alerted by local fishermen.

The Ivorian, however, died in a hospital and one of the Malians has also been hospitalised in intensive care.

The boat tipped over only hours after setting out to sea from the Libyan town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, with the intention of reaching Italy.

Libya has in recent years been a major departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.

Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, with many held in squalid detention facilities.

An air strike Tuesday on a migrant center in the capital Tripoli killed at least 53 people, according to the World Health Organization.