Tunis/Tunisia — The sub-Saharan immigrant boat that sank 60 km off the coast of Sfax left Thursday from the Libyan city of Zouara for Italy, the Ministry of National Defence said.
"Search operations are continuing," the Department of Defense said on Friday in a statement, adding that "as soon as it was informed of the shipwreck, a unit of the national navy was dispatched to the scene where it intercepted a Tunisian fishing boat rescuing survivors.
"Sixteen illegal immigrants have so far been rescued and transferred to the military ship," says the same statement.
The navy then conducted a sweep of the area where it recovered three bodies.
At least 70 migrants drowned on Friday following the sinking of their boat in international waters more than 60 nautical miles from the coast of Sfax. Sixteen survivors were rescued by a fishing boat, according to TAP from a regional source.
The number of victims could be revised upwards, as the recovery of the bodies, carried out by the French Navy, continues.