Fishermen rescue 74 Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria migrants drifting at sea

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ZARZIS  (AFP) – Tunisian fishermen rescued 74 migrants Thursday who had drifted for five days after leaving Libya aboard an inflatable boat in an attempt to reach Italy, an official said.

The migrants, mainly from Bangladesh, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo, had set off from Tajura near Tripoli, Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told AFP.

Earlier, one of the rescued Bangladeshis said they had left the Libyan port of Zwara headed for the Italian coast but were caught in a storm.

He said they had been running out of food and water when they spotted a Tunisian fishing boat which escorted them to shore.

An AFP correspondent said the migrants were in a state of extreme fatigue by the time they made landfall in Zarzis, in southern Tunisia, where emergency services took charge of them.

Earlier this month, Tunisian coastguards intercepted 90 African migrants whose makeshift boat heading from Libya for the Italian island of Lampedusa broke down off Zarzis.

Would-be immigrants often attempt the crossing from Tunisia or Libya to Lampedusa in rickety boats.

Hundreds of people lost their lives off the island last October, and in late February, the Tunisian navy had to rescue some 100 migrants whose boat started taking on water.

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