190122 sea watch ship
File photo: A Sea-Watch ship approaches a dinghy to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea Image Credit: AP

Tunis: The U.N. migration agency says a boat carrying 86 migrants from Libya sank in the Mediterranean overnight, and just three people on board survived, with 82 reportedly missing.

The shipwreck late Wednesday off the Tunisian city of Zarzis came a day after a deadly airstrike on a Libyan detention center that killed at least 44 migrants.

The Red Crescent and the navy told AFP that three Malians and an Ivorian were rescued off Zarzis in southern Tunisia on Wednesday by the coast guard who had been alerted by local fishermen.

The Ivorian, however, died in hospital and one of the Malians has also been hospitalised in intensive care.

Those rescued had told Tunisian officials that 86 people were on board their inflatable boat when it left from the Libyan town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, on its way to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

"About 80 migrants are feared dead. More updates are needed in order to confirm what happened and the actual number of missing," Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, tweeted.

Earlier this week, another boat from Libya made it to the Tunisian port of Sfax with 65 people on board.

The perilous route, frequently used by migrant boats, has taken hundreds of lives by now. Just in May, at least 50 people were killed after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia, according to the International Organization for Migration.

More details to follow

- Inputs from AP