Forty-one people are believed dead after a migrant boat capsized off Tunisia, Italian state RAI television reported, citing four survivors who were rescued and brought to land Wednesday.
According to RAI and ANSA news agency, the four were first rescued by the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier Rimona in the Straits of Sicily. They were then transferred to the Italian coast guard, which brought them to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
The island, which is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, is a frequent destination for migrant smugglers and has seen its migrant holding center repeatedly overcrowded with new arrivals this summer.
Alessandra Filograno, a spokeswoman for the Italian Red Cross, confirmed four survivors arrived at the Lampedusa center Wednesday morning: two men, a woman and an unaccompanied minor. Filograno had no further information.
Neither ANSA nor RAI provided attribution for the information but reported the four survivors — who hailed from Ivory Coast and Guinea — as saying that 41 people died, including three children.
This summer, there have been numerous shipwrecks of smugglers’ boats leaving from Tunisia bound for Italy. According to the Interior Ministry, more than 93,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, more than twice the 45,000 who arrived during the same period in 2022.
The top nationalities of those arriving are from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Tunisia.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, whose right-wing government includes the anti-migrant League party, has galvanized the European Union to join it in efforts to coax Tunisia to crack down on smuggling operations, but the boats continue to set off.