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Toll in Migrant Boat Accident off Tunisia Rises to 82

An African migrant, who the Tunisian Red Crescent said was rescued after the boat he was traveling in capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian Coast, sits inside a local Red Crescent chapter in Zarzis, Tunisia, July 4, 2019.

The number of bodies recovered by Tunisia after a ship packed with migrants sank off its coast last week has risen to 82, in one of the worst disasters in recent years, the Tunisian Red Crescent said Saturday.

The boat capsized after setting off for Europe from neighboring Libya. Survivors told the Tunisian coast guard last week that it had been carrying 86 people.

Tunisian fishermen rescued four people but one later died in hospital, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said last week.

“After a week of searches, all the 82 bodies who were in the boat that sank last week were recovered,” Mongi Slim, an official of the Tunisian Red Crescent, told Reuters.

Libya’s west coast is a main departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe, though numbers have dropped because of an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support Libya’s coast guard.

Sixty-five migrants heading for Europe from Libya drowned in May when their boat capsized off Tunisia.