Updated at 8.50pm
A boat carrying around 70 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa has sunk in the Mediterranean, leaving three people dead and dozens missing, Tunisian officials said Friday.
The bodies of three people who drowned in the incident were found Friday, a spokesman for the Tunisian defence ministry said, adding the boat left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast on Thursday.
A fishing boat picked up 16 survivors, who were transferred on board one of three military vessels involved in the search and rescue operation, said spokesman Mohamed Zekri.
A Maltese helicopter was also mobilised, he said.
According to those rescued, between 60 to 70 people from sub-Saharan Africa were thought to be on board, Zekri added.
Interior ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag said, however, around 75 people were believed to have been on board the Italy-bound boat when it left Libya.
The Red Crescent said there could have been as many as 90 passengers on board the ill-fated vessel, which could indicate a much steeper death toll.
“We will probably never know the exact number of those who died,” said Mongi Slim, a Red Crescent official in the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis, where those rescued…