54 migrants died of thirst: UN
Fifty-four migrants trying to reach Italy died of thirst when their inflatable boat ruptured in the Mediterranean, according to testimony from the sole survivor, the UN refugee agency said.
The rescued man, who drank sea water to survive, was spotted clinging to a jerry can and the remains of the stricken boat off the Tunisian coast on Monday night by fishermen, the UNHCR said.
The man, who is being treated in a Tunisian hospital for exposure and dehydration, said there was no fresh water on board and people started to perish within days, including three members of his family.
In his account of the 15-day ordeal, the man from Eritrea said 55 people boarded the boat in the Libyan capital Tripoli in late June and reached the Italian coast a day later.
But high winds forced the vessel back out to sea and within a few days it had punctured and air started to leak out, the man told the UNHCR.