Between 70 and 80 people were believed to have been on board the boat when the accident happened off the coast of Tunisia, from where there has been a recent increase in the number of migrants attempting the Mediterranean crossing towards Europe after Italy struck a deal in July to limit the flow from war-torn Libya.
Eight bodies have been recovered while around 20 people are still missing, Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) wrote in a tweet. Over 40 people have been saved in an operation coordinated by Malta's coastguard alongside colleagues from the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Forse quasi 30 le vittime dell'incidente avvenuto tra Tunisia e Italia.Salvati oltre 40 migranti.Recuperati 8 cadaveri,si temono 20 dispersi
— Flavio Di Giacomo (@fladig) October 9, 2017
Belhassen Oueslati, a spokesperson for Tunisia's defense ministry, said the crash happened on Sunday night as the military vessel “approached an unidentified boat” about 54km from the Kerkenna islands.
“The boat collided with the military ship, causing it to sink.”
More details to follow.