TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – Three Italian sailors drowned and two Tunisian sailors went missing after a cargo ship struck their small fishing boat off the coast of Tunisia, the country’s Assabah newspaper reported Friday.
The merchant ship Royal Color, flying the colors of Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, rammed into the Italian fishing boat Francesco Kentjitano on Thursday evening 35 kilometers (22 miles) off Keliba, a port 110 kilometers (68 miles) southeast of the capital Tunis, the newspaper said.
Nearby ships helped the Royal Color pluck sailors from the water. They were joined by helicopters and units from the Tunisian navy and security forces.
Several Italian and Tunisian crewmen were saved, while the bodies of three drowned Italian sailors were recovered. Search operations continued Thursday night in the hope of finding more survivors.
Two Tunisians were known to be missing, the newspaper said, but it was not clear if any more crewmen were still unaccounted for.
Tunisian authorities have opened an investigation to determine how the accident happened and who might be responsible, the newspaper said.
Italian authorities could not be reached for comment.