At least 46 migrants drowned when their boat sank off Tunisia’s southern coast while dozens of others were rescued by the coastguard.
The rescue operation was ongoing, the defence ministry said on Sunday.
“The coastguard and the navy continue their search with the support of a military plane,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said there were more than 70 survivors from the shipwreck, with spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo cautioning on Twitter the final number of missing was still uncertain.
“There were around 180 of us on board the boat … which sank because of a leak,” a survivor told Tunisia’s Mosaique FM radio, describing the boat as nine metres long.
Another rescued person said the captain abandoned the vessel after it started sinking to escape arrest by the coastguard.
“I survived by clinging to wood for nine hours,” he said at a hospital in the southern city of Sfax, where dozens of people gathered to look for survivors and identify dead relatives.