At least 23 African migrants drown in shipwreck off Tunisia, NGO says

TUNIS, June 1 (Reuters) - At least 23 migrants from Africa drowned in a shipwreck off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, and 70 were rescued, the Tunisian Red Crescent humanitarian organisation said on Tuesday.

More than 120 migrants have died in recent weeks in similar incidents off the Tunisian coast, as improved weather has increased the number of trips from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy to reach Europe.

"(The Tunisian) navy rescued 70 migrants, as 23 others drowned in a boat carrying more than 90 migrants that set off from Libya towards Europe," Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters. The navy also rescued 39 other migrants who were on another boat that sank off the coast of Sfax.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR says fewer than 23,500 people have made it across the sea to Europe this year, with most new arrivals landing in Italy and Spain from Tunisia and Algeria.

Reporting by Tarek Amara, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.