Forty-one migrants thought dead after small boat sank in Mediterranean

Italian authorities on Wednesday August 9th said that 41 migrants were thought to have died in a shipwreck last week in the central Mediterranean, according to accounts by the four survivors, who have been taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is situated in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia.

Local public prosecutor Salvatore Vella confirmed media reports that four people who survived the shipwreck told rescuers they were on a boat carrying 45 people, including three children. He said that his office has opened an investigation into the incident.

The boat, which was just seven-metres in length, left Sfax, Tunisia, last Thursday August 3rd. It capsized and sank after a few hours when it was hit by a big wave, the survivors told Italian news agency Ansa.

The Sea-Watch charity rescue group said that one of its surveillance planes spotted them being rescued by a cargo ship. They were then transferred onto an Italian coast guard vessel and disembarked in Lampedusa.

It was thought unlikely that this disaster was one of two that the Italian coast guard had reported on Sunday August 6th.

At the time, the coast guard said they had rescued 57 people and recovered two bodies, amid media reports that at least one of the sunken boats had also set off from Sfax on Thursday. Separately, Tunisian authorities said on Monday that they had recovered 11 bodies from a shipwreck near Sfax on Sunday, with 44 migrants still missing from that sinking.