At least 70 migrants sank off the Tunisian coast

At least 70 illegal migrants sank in international waters off the Tunisian resort of Sfax, a news report said on Friday.

A Tunisian defense ministry spokesman said on Friday that the boat of migrants killed off the coast of Tunisia had been launched from the Libyan coast of Zuwara.

Spokesman Mohamed Zekri told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the army of the sea (Tunisian navy) had so far recovered three bodies while combing continued in search of other missing persons.

He also reported that a fishing boat rescued 16 migrants who had been handed over to the army and were from African countries.

"The figures are mixed on who were on the boat, and we do not have a precise number for the number of sinking, but the combing operations continue," Zakri said.

TAP reported earlier that at least 70 people were sinking, citing officials of the regional authorities in Sfax.

Migratory boats are operating from the Tunisian coast to the nearest point of the European coasts of the Italian island of Sicily, at a greater pace with the mild weather conditions.

The Tunisian coast was hit by the worst sinking of migrants in June last year when more than 80 people were killed in a boat coup near the island of Qirqneh of the state of Sfax.

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