Officials say a search operation after a boat left Tunisia on Thursday sank on the way to Lampedusa.
At least 21 people have died after a boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach the Italian island of Lampesa.
“The boat sank off the coast of Sfax on Thursday … The coast guard has so far recovered 21 bodies and the search is still ongoing,” Maward Mechri, director of the Tunisian Civil Protection Agency, told Reuters on Friday.
The port city of Tunisia has become a major departure point for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East and seeking a better life in Europe.
Last month, 39 migrants died off the coast of Suffolk, and at least 60 died when a boat sank in another similar accident in June last year.
Human traffickers sail ships, many of them crumbling rubber dinghies or rich fishing boats, crowding migrants hoping to reach the European coast
Some are fleeing conflict or persecution, while many of the millions of migrants rescued at sea in recent years are fleeing poverty.
Since 2014, more than 20,000 migrants and refugees have died at sea trying to reach Europe from Africa.
At least 406 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, more than 8,500 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy since the beginning of this year, the largest group of Tunisians.