Coastguard in Tunisia retrieved the bodies of 21 sub-Saharan migrants and rescued 50 after their boat sank off the port city of Sfax, authorities said.

FILE PHOTO: Medics transport a migrant rescued by Tunisia's national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean by boat, at the port of El Ketef in Ben Guerdane in southern Tunisia on June 27, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Medics transport a migrant rescued by Tunisia's national guard during an attempted crossing of the Mediterranean by boat, at the port of El Ketef in Ben Guerdane in southern Tunisia on June 27, 2021. (AFP)

At least 21 migrants have died after the boat carrying them sank off the coast of Tunisia, a security official said, the second such disaster in two days in the region. 

The coastguard recovered the bodies off the port of Sfax, Colonel Houssem Jbebli from the National Guard said.

On Saturday, at least 43 migrants drowned and another 84 were rescued after a shipwreck off Tunisia's coastal community of Zarzis. 

Authorities said the migrants were trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

"As part of Tunisia's efforts to monitor borders, the coastguard managed to thwart 10 immigration operations in recent days and rescued 158 migrants," Jbebli added. 

Tunisia and neighbouring Libya are key departure points for migrants, many from sub-Saharan Africa, who attempt the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe, particularly Italy.

In early May, the UN's refugee agency UNHCR said that at least 500 people had died trying to cross the central Mediterranean this year, more than triple the 150 in the same period of 2020.

READ MORE: Dozens of migrants drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Source: Reuters