More than 200 immigrants missing off Tunisia coast

AP News
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Posted: Jun 02, 2011 10:01 AM
More than 200 immigrants missing off Tunisia coast

At least 200 immigrants are missing and two are dead after a fishing boat carrying hundreds of immigrants sank off the coast of Tunisia in a storm, the official news agency reported Thursday.

The boat was believed to have set sail from Libya and was en route to Italy with an estimated 800 would-be immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia on board, including women and children, the report said.

The boat stalled some 20 miles off the Kerkennah islands in southern Tunisia on Tuesday night in foul weather that also hampered rescue operations.

Some 570 passengers were rescued by the Tunisian coast guard and army throughout Wednesday. Authorities attributed the large number of missing to the stampede to get off the ship and board inflatable rafts during the storm, as well as a lack of resources mobilized in the rescue.

Survivors were transferred to the Choucha refugee camp on the Tunisian-Libyan border. The camp is providing shelter to sub-Saharan Africans and others who have fled months-long conflict between Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi and rebels.

Seven injured survivors were transferred to the emergency department at the University Hospital Habib Bourguiba in Sfax and two pregnant women were sent to the maternity ward, the report said.