Passing Tunisian fisherman came to their rescue and were able to bring four people to shore and to hospital. However, one later passed away, the UNHCR said.

The four people had survived by holding onto some wood that they had extracted from the boat, they told Reuters. They also witnessed several drowned people at the scene.

Two of the survivors are receiving assistance at UNHCR shelter in Tunisia’s Zarzis, while another remains in hospital receiving treatment.

The status quo cannot continue. Nobody puts their lives and the lives of their families at risk on these desperate boat journeys unless they feel they have no other choice. We need to provide people with meaningful alternatives that stops them from needing to step foot on a boat in the first place,

...said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Mediterranean.

Libya is a main departure point for migrants hoping to reach Europe. Thousands of migrants, many from sub-Saharan Africa, are being held in detention camps in the country.

Given the ongoing violence in Tripoli and the clear risk to civilian lives, it is now more urgent than ever that refugees and migrants held in detention centres are released so they can be moved to safety,

...UNHCR stressed.

On Wednesday, at least 53 migrants were killed when a detention centre in Tripoli was hit by an air strike.

In May, at least 65 people drowned when their boat also departed Libya and sunk off Tunisia.

According to data provided by the International Organization for Migration, a total of 681 people were lost in the Mediterranean in 2019 -as of 4 July- in their effort to reach Europe.