|Three days of searching, but still|
The coast guard said four patrol boats are searching near the Tunisian port of Sfax, where a Libyan trawler overloaded with some 250 passengers capsized overnight last Thursday.
"We don't have much chance of finding survivors," said an officer of Tunisia's National Guard: "Rescue vessels are trying to pick up bodies from the water."
The boat sank some 90 km off the Tunisian coast, between the Karkannah and Jarba islands.
Among the craft's 41 survivors - who are from Mali, Ghana, Liberia, Somalia, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia - several described how they used their bare hands and bundles of clothes to try desperately to stop water pouring into a boat which later capsized.
"Cracks appeared on the boat as it was sailing and the water began seeping through it. We struggled to fill the cracks with bare hands or using clothes but later the water surged and we were unable to contain it," said Abd ul-Jalil, a 24-year-old Moroccan.
"The boat overturned because of the high water level and it sank on Friday at around 1:00 a.m.," he told reporters in the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax, where 41 survivors were brought by Tunisian authorities before deportation.
"Many of us paid up to $2,000 for the boat trip on the hope to reach Italy and then further to Europe to find a job," said a 28 year-old Somali, who gave his name as Ahmad.
Some of the survivors swam for more than five hours to make it to Sfax while others were picked up by fishing boats or navy ships, officials said.
The survivors said the wrecked boat sailed from Libya, where leader Muammar Gaddafi had warned European Union leaders that rich states would be swamped by waves of illegal immigration unless they step up cooperation with Africa to increase investments and job opportunities.
|The Libyan president wants rich |
nations to invest in Africa to help
curb illegal immigration
Tunisian officials said the capsized boat was part of a "wave" of several boats spotted off Tunisia's coast sailing to Italy over recent days.
Rickety vessels filled with illegal immigrants have been arriving on Italy's southern shores almost daily in past weeks, sparking a political row there as one anti-immigration minister threatened to quit and called for the navy to be used to keep them out.