Boat carrying dozens of migrants capsizes off the coast of Tunisia

A red flag with a moon on it.
The flag of Tunisia. Photo credit: Getty

Dozens of African migrants have capsized off the coast of Tunisia after setting off by boat for Europe from Libya, a government source and the Tunisian Red Crescent says.

Some of the four initial survivors said the boat had sunk off the town of Zarzis, Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters.

One of the four died later in hospital, Slim said.

A government source said some of a group of African migrants who were rescued 15 kilometres from the town of Zarzis had informed coastguards that they had set out from Zuwara in Libya, and that dozens had drowned.

At least 65 migrants heading for Europe from Libya drowned last May when their boat capsized off Tunisia.

Libya's west coast is a main departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe with the help of human traffickers.

However numbers have dropped due to an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

Although the fighting in Libya has made the situation more difficult for people-trafficking rackets, international aid officials have warned that it could also prompt more Libyans to flee their country.