Forty-one west African migrants including Gambians, Senegalese and Nigerians are believed dead after a boat capsized off Tunisia. 

The boat set off on Thursday morning from Tunisia’s Sfax, a hot spot in the migration crisis, but capsized and sank after a few hours, according to Italian state RAI television that cited four survivors who were rescued and brought to land on 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 coastguard, which brought them to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland.

Alessandra Filograno, a spokeswoman for the Italian Red Cross, confirmed four survivors arrived at the Lampedusa centre on Wednesday morning: two men, a woman and an unaccompanied minor.

The four survivors were reported to have come from Ivory Coast and Guinea. They told rescuers that 41 migrants died including three children.

This summer, there have been numerous shipwrecks of smugglers’ boats leaving from Tunisia bound for Italy.

According to the Italian interior ministry, more than 93,000 undocumented people have arrived in Italy so far this year by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, 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.

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