27 people are killed or missing after a migrant boat shipwreck in Tunisia.

Two migrant boats sank off the east coast of Tunisia, killing or missing 27 people.

The first boat, carrying 37 people, left Tunisia for Italy on Friday. Twenty people are still missing, while 17 have been rescued, according to a court spokesperson in Sfax.

Four bodies were recovered from a beach on Saturday after a second boat capsized.

Thirty-six people on the second boat were rescued, and three are still missing, according to the spokesperson.

Faouzi Masmoudi, the spokesperson, stated that the boats were made of iron sheets.

At least seven similar shipwrecks have occurred off the coast of Tunisia since the beginning of March, with approximately 100 people killed or missing.

Parts of the Tunisian coastline are only about 150 kilometers from Lampedusa, an Italian island that is frequently used as a gateway to the mainland.

Because of its proximity to Italy, Tunisia has surpassed Libya as the primary departure point for people fleeing conflict and dire poverty in the Middle East and Africa in search of a better life in Europe.

According to Tunisia’s coastguard, over 14,000 migrants, the majority of whom are from Sub-Saharan Africa, were intercepted trying to reach Europe from the country in the first three months of this year. The figure is five times higher than for the same time period last year.

According to Houssem Jebabli, a spokesperson for the Tunisian national guard, the figures for 2023 are “up very sharply because there are many more departures.”

Migrants frequently pay exorbitant fees to be transported in dangerous vessels by people smugglers.

As he announced investigations into both boat accidents, Mr Masmoudi, the Sfax court spokesperson, said it was critical that the traffickers themselves be detained.

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