Tunisia prime minister fires interior minister after migrant boat sinks

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The latest shipwreck is the most deadly in the Mediterranean Sea since February 2 when 90 people drowned off the coast of Libya, according to IOM.

At least 52 people died after a boat carrying around 180 refugees and migrants sank off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday.

"I survived by clinging to wood for nine hours", he said at a hospital in the southern city of Sfax, where dozens of people gathered to look for survivors and identify dead relatives.

Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as Libya's coastguard, aided by armed groups, has tightened controls.

The number of immigrants killed by the sinking of the vessel in which they were traveling on the southeastern coast of Tunisia on Sunday rose to 112, the United Nations migration agency revealed today.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Spokesman William Spindler tells NPR at least 52 people have died.

Tunisia stopped about 6,000 migrants leaving its coast for Europe in the first five months of the year - a sharp increase from the few hundred prevented in the same period last year, an interior ministry official has disclosed.

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A "preliminary investigation" had shown that officials had "directly or indirectly" failed to carry out their duties, an interior ministry statement said.

UNHCR urged "durable" solutions for refugees and legal channels such as private sponsorship, family reunification and naturalisation.

The death toll from the shipwreck is likely to be over 100 as some 60 of the boat's passengers are still missing at sea and presumed dead, UNHCR said.

Crew from a Sea Watch search and rescue vessel rescue survivors from a boat that foundered trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2016.

Meanwhile, survivors blamed the captain for abandoning the boat after it started sinking primarily for evading arrest by the coastguard.

Since January 1 to the end of May 2018 we arrested about 6,000 migrants at our coasts compared to just a few hundred arrested in the same period a year ago.

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