At least 34 migrants missing, two dead after boat sinks off Tunisia

A group of migrants on an inflatable dinghy in a file photo. REUTERS

TUNIS, Tunisia — At least 34 migrants were missing and two have died after their boat sank off Tunisia as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, the Tunisian National Guard reported on Friday.

The vessel, departing from the Libyan coast, was carrying 70 individuals. Thirty-four people were rescued near the southern town of Zarzis, according to officials.

Earlier this week, the Tunisian Coast Guard also discovered the bodies of five migrants.

Recent weeks have seen an increase in the number of African migrants, including Tunisians, embarking on perilous journeys to Italy in boats, encouraged by improving weather conditions.

A rights group reported last month that a record 1,313 migrants either died or were missing off the Tunisian coast in the previous year, underscoring the ongoing migrant crisis in the North African nation.