The Tunisian Red Crescent Society said on Monday that eight bodies of migrants, probably Tunisians who had been missing for a fortnight, had been recovered by sailors off the coast of southeast Tunisia.
“Sailors found eight bodies of migrants off the coast of Zarzis (south-east) on Monday morning, whose boat is believed to have sunk a fortnight ago,” Mongi Slim, head of the Red Crescent in Medenine, near Zarzis, told AFP.
DNA samples have been taken from the bodies to identify them, the same source said.
A makeshift boat carrying 18 migrants, including a baby, disappeared 15 days ago, local media reported.
The Tunisian coastguard is continuing the search, the Tunisian Red Crescent said.
From spring to early autumn, due to favourable weather conditions, the pace of irregular migration attempts from the Tunisian and Libyan coasts to the Italian coast accelerates, sometimes resulting in drowning.
More than 22,500 migrants have been intercepted off the Tunisian coast since the beginning of the year, including nearly 11,000 from sub-Saharan Africa, according to official figures.
During the same period, more than 500 smugglers have been arrested, including 21 foreigners.
Tunisia is going through a serious political and economic crisis and now has four million poor people out of a population of nearly 12 million.
Faced with migratory pressure, the Tunisian authorities are struggling to intercept or rescue migrants because of what they say is a lack of resources.
According to the European agency Frontex, the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants from January to July, an increase of 44% compared to the first seven months of 2021.