May 10 (UPI) — A boat carrying migrants across the Mediterranean Sea capsized Friday, killing about 65 people off the coast of Tunisia, U.N. officials said.
The Tunisian navy rescued 16 people from the water and brought them to land in Zarzis, where one person was hospitalized for treatment, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said. The organization teamed with the Tunisian Red Crescent to provide medical assistance, shelter, food and blankets.
The survivors said the boat left Zuwara, Tripoli, Thursday evening and sank after encountering strong waves.
“This is a tragic and terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR special envoy for the Mediterranean.
In a January report, the agency said 2,275 people died or went missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean last year, an average of six each day. Some 164 people died on the trek between Libya and Europe in the first four months of 2019.
“Across the region, we need to strengthen the capacity of search and rescue operations,” Cochetel said. “If we don’t act now, we’re almost certain to see more tragic events in the coming weeks and months.