Tunisian fishermen save 80 migrants from sinking boat

AFP , Friday 24 Apr 2015

Tunisian fishermen rescued a group of around 80 migrants Friday after their boat got into difficulties while trying to sail from Libya to Europe, the Red Crescent told AFP.

"The flow (of illegal immigrants) does not seem to be stopping," said Mongi Slim, head of the Red Crescent in the southeastern port of Zarzis near the North African country's border with violence-plagued Libya.

"We expect to receive approximately 80 people this afternoon" at Zarzis, he said.

Slim and a Tunisian coastguard official said three fishing boats went to the aid of the migrants when their boat was in danger of sinking.

The group had set off from the Libyan port of Zwara some 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the frontier with Tunisia.

They were the latest to be rescued by the Tunisians. Last week, 178 people were saved off the coast, as were another 169 last month.

People smugglers are exploiting the chaos in Libya to take advantage of people seeking a better life in Europe, cramming them aboard dilapidated and overcrowded boats headed mainly for Italy.

The Mediterranean's worst maritime disaster in decades took place on Sunday when a boat that had left Libya with more than 750 people on board foundered.

Just 26 men and two crew survived.

EU leaders decided Thursday to triple funds for the bloc's maritime search and rescue operation, as horrific details of last weekend's shipwreck continued to emerge.

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