The vessel was packed with refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Libya
A boat carrying Tunisian migrants makes its way to the Italian port of Lampedusa in April. Around 200 migrants are missing off the Tunisian coast after an operation to rescue some 800 people aboard a small ship that ran aground on a sandbank, the official news agency TAP reported. © Filippo Monteforte - AFP/File
The vessel was packed with refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Libya
AFP
Last updated: February 6, 2012

Around 200 migrants 'missing off Tunisia coast'

Around 200 migrants are missing off the Tunisian coast after an operation to rescue some 800 people aboard a small ship that ran aground on a sandbank, the official news agency TAP reported on Thursday.

A rescue operation that began Wednesday has lifted 570 people off the overcrowded vessel after it ran aground and capsized near Tunisia's Kerkennah islands, the agency said.

But around 200 were still missing after they tried to scramble aboard a flotilla of rescue boats, it said. Authorities reported two dead bodies were recovered from the scene.

The coastguard said the vessel had been packed with refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Libya and was on its way to the Italian island of Lampedusa when it went aground.

It ran aground on a sandbank some 19 nautical miles (36 kilometres) off the coast of the islands, and then capsized as people struggled to leave the boat to jump into the rescue vessels, the agency reported.

Those who were rescued were being taken to a refugee camp at Choucha in southern Tunisia.

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