Two NGO boats rescued nearly 400 migrants from the Middle East and South Asia from a wooden boat off Tunisia on Sunday.
The humanitarian ships, Sea-Watch 3 and Ocean Viking, transferred 394 migrants to their boats because the migrants’ boat was overcapacity, a witness said Told Reuters. The witness also said the boat began to fill with water and its engine stopped working.
The witness said that migrants, who were more than 40 miles from the Tunisian coast, took off from their boat and tried to swim towards the Sea-Watch 3 vessel, which was carrying out the operation.
In total, the Sea-Watch 3 vessel picked up 141 of the migrants – men who were mostly of Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan and Bangladeshi origin – while the Ocean Viking received the rest, Reuters reported.
A yacht from a German NGO also took part in the operation.
Reuters noted that it was unclear whether any of the migrants were injured or died during the operation.
Migrants seeking better living conditions or fleeing conflict in their own countries have tried to make the dangerous journey from Libya and Tunisia to Italy. In late July, 17 Bengali migrants who attempted to travel from Libya to Italy died in a shipwreck off Tunisia while more than 380 were rescued, Reuters reported.
Reuters noted that while the number of migrants coming to Italy has fallen in recent years, better weather conditions have encouraged more crossings in recent months.