Three migrants have been confirmed dead and ten others declared missing after their makeshift boat sank off the coast of east-central Tunisia, the National Guard said on Friday.
According to the same source, 44 other migrants were rescued.
The boat, which left from the coast of Sfax with more than 50 migrants on board, all of Tunisian nationality, sank off the coast of this port city, said Houcem Eddine Jebabli, spokesman for the National Guard, the Tunisian gendarmerie.
The migrants were trying to reach Europe illegally.
The city of Sfax is one of the main departure points for Tunisian and foreign migrants, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa, to the Italian coast.
The rate of illegal departures is likely to increase as the summer approaches.
At the beginning of May, the Tunisian authorities announced that they had found the bodies of 24 drowned migrants after their boats sank off the coast of Sfax.
Between 22 and 30 April, four boats capsized off the coast of Sfax, causing the drowning of migrants to recover in the following days, while 97 people were rescued.
Italy is one of the main points of entry into Europe for migrants from North Africa, who arrive mainly from Tunisia and Libya, two countries from which departures increased considerably in 2021.
That year, 15,671 migrants, including 584 women, managed to reach Italian soil from the Tunisian coast, compared to 12,883 (including 353 women) in 2020, according to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES).
In total, more than 123,000 migrants landed in Italy in 2021, compared to some 95,000 the previous year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Nearly 2,000 migrants went missing or drowned in the Mediterranean in the same year, compared to 1,401 in 2020, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).