Forty-one people reportedly died in a migrant shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa, survivors say, the latest tragedy amid a spike in efforts in people making the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Europe.
The survivors told the Red Cross that the migrant boat left Sfax, Tunisia several days ago. They said they were wearing life jackets and were able to crawl on a remnants of a different shipwrecked boat, according to the Red Cross.
The Italian Coast Guard confirmed with CNN that it transported the survivors to Lampedusa after they were rescued by a private vessel. It is unclear how many people in total were on board.
As of Tuesday, 93,754 people have arrived in Italy by boat this year, a sharp increase from 2022, according to the Italian government.
Lampedusa, not far from Sicily and the closest Italian island to Africa, is a major destination for migrants seeking to enter European Union countries.
It has facilities to host fewer than 500 people but is currently over capacity at 1,577, with 1,100 due to be transferred to Sicily on Wednesday, according to the Red Cross.
This incident marks the latest in a string of tragedies occurring off Lampedusa.
On Sunday, three bodies were recovered, including a 3-year-old child and a pregnant woman, and at least 30 people were missing after two migrant boats sank off the Italian island, the Italian Coast Guard said in a statement.
Earlier this year Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni blamed the rising number of migrants on the “political situation” in Tunisia.