Nine bodies were found following the sinking of an illegal migration boat off the coast of Tunisia

Both the Tunisian coast guard and a judicial source announced Thursday that nine illegal migrants attempting to reach European shores met their demise in a drifting boat off the eastern coast of the country after sustaining damages.

The bodies were discovered aboard the boat carrying 52 migrants of different nationalities, off the coast of the city of Zarzis (in central-eastern Tunisia), after its departure from the “shores of a neighboring country,” according to coast guard spokesperson Houssem Eddine Jebabli.

Jebabli indicated in a preliminary tally that “five migrant bodies were found, and another is in critical condition aboard this boat,” without specifying the cause of death.

According to the official spokesperson for the court in Medenine (southeast), Saad El Har, nine migrants aboard the boat perished.

Har asserted that it was “highly likely that they perished from asphyxiation due to the fuel odor at the bottom of this two-tiered boat,” noting that 43 migrants were rescued, with six of them transported to the hospital.

The migrants, all men, hail from various nationalities, including Egyptian, Syrian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi, according to the spokesperson for the court in Medenine.

The National Guard stated in a release that the boat “sustained damages due to water leakage.”

Local media reported that the boat had departed from Libyan shores.

Libya has been engulfed in chaos since the fall of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, becoming a launching point for tens of thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe illegally by sea.

Boats departing from Libyan shores toward Tunisian shores often encounter troubles, with Tunisia also serving as a significant departure point for migrants aiming to reach Europe.

On Monday, Tunisian authorities reported the disappearance of 17 migrants who set off from the northern coasts of the country.

Last week, 13 Sudanese refugees perished, and 27 others went missing after their boat sank near Sfax (in central-eastern Tunisia) as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy, whose closest shores to Tunisia are less than 150 kilometers away.

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