A boat carrying illegal migrants from Tunisia to Italy capsized on Saturday leaving one person dead, Tunisian authorities said, adding that six other people were missing at sea.
The boat sank off the coast of Thyna near the port of Sfax in the morning, Moez Triaa, a spokesman for Tunisia’s civil protection unit, told AFP.
A total of 20 Tunisians were on board the stricken boat, he said.
The body of one of them was retrieved from the sea while search operations are underway for six other passengers, Triaa added.
He said that authorities arrested 11 people who were aboard the vessel, while two others managed to escape.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the National Guard told Mosaique FM, a private radio station, that its forces had arrested 223 people this week who tried to cross the Mediterranean illegally to Europe.
The migrants included 94 sub-Saharan Africans, the spokesman, Housemeddine Jebabli, said.
Thousands of young Tunisians make the often deadly sea crossing to Europe each year, driven by high unemployment at home.
According to Europe's coast guard service Frontex the number of illegal migrants trying to make their way to Europe fell by 85 percent in April compared to the previous month.
Frontex linked the drop to the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus: UN calls on EU to rescue 160 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean
UK coastguard rescue more than 120 migrants on seven small boats in English Channel
Italy impounds charity rescue ships for migrants
Coronavirus: UN calls on EU to rescue 160 migrants stranded in the MediterraneanThe United Nations called on the EU on Thursday to reach a deal to take in 160 migrants who have been stranded in the Mediterranean for two ... Coronavirus
Ethiopia migrants recall tragedy when 64 suffocated in a metal containerSilence gradually replaced the screams around Dejene Degefa as his fellow travelers suffocated one by one inside a locked metal container. He ... Africa
Two migrants in Greece shot after breaking coronavirus quarantineTwo asylum-seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos were shot and injured after apparently violating coronavirus quarantine rules, officials said ... Coronavirus