Rescuers have recovered bodies of 12 refugees from various countries, however an official says most of the corpses are Syrians.

A search was still underway.
A search was still underway. (AA Archive)

At least 12 refugees drowned in a shipwreck off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a civil protection official has said.

The official added that the 12 bodies that were recovered off the coast of Nabeul were mostly of Syrian refugees. 

A search was still underway.

In recent months, several people have drowned off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings to Europe from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy.

Arrivals in Italy, one of the main migrant routes into Europe, had been falling in recent years, but numbers picked up again in 2021.

Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

READ MORE: African migrants drown off Tunisia in shipwreck

Source: TRTWorld and agencies