(Rome) At least two migrants are dead and around 20 others are missing after their boat sank between Tunisia and Italy, the German NGO ResQship told AFP on Sunday.

Twenty-two people were also rescued by the Nadir, the NGO’s ship, after the shipwreck that occurred overnight from Saturday to Sunday. They were landed on Sunday afternoon on the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Stefen Seyfert, one of ResQship’s managers.

Among them were men, women and children from Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Cameroon, in particular, Ingo Werth, the captain of the Nadir, present on board at the time of the rescue, told AFP.

A pregnant woman was rescued while the bodies of two men were recovered, he said.

In total, about 40 migrants were on board this boat which had left Sfax, Tunisia, according to Mr. Seyfert.

“We did everything we could to save more people, but we didn’t succeed,” he added, hailing “good cooperation” with the Italian Coast Guard.

According to the Italian news agency Ansa, nine women are among the survivors and 18 people disappeared at sea. They would have paid 3,000 Tunisian dinars (about 1,330 CAN dollars) to board the small boat.

In recent days, thousands of migrants have landed on the island of Lampedusa, off the eastern coast of Tunisia, aboard their own boats or Italian coast guard boats.

Italy’s geographical location makes it a destination of choice for asylum seekers crossing from North Africa to Europe. Rome has long complained about the number of arrivals in its territory.

According to the Interior Ministry, more than 14,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the start of the year, compared to just over 5,300 during the same period last year and 4,300 in 2021.