TUNIS, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Italian coastguards rescued some 56 Tunisian migrants after a boat sank 12 miles (about 19 km) off the Italian island of Lampedusa early on Friday, which left at least one man dead, the official TAP press agency reported.
Survivors were quoted as saying some 100 to 150 people were on board when it sank in high seas.
In a communique released Friday, Tunisia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is closely monitoring the situation with the help of Italian authorities.
Some 79 people are reportedly missing. A representative of the Tunisian consulate in Palermo has been dispatched to the scene, TAP said.
Local rescue teams are still searching for the missing with the help of NATO helicopters.
Lampedusa, some 130 km from the Tunisian coast, was flooded with some 30,000 Tunisian migrants before and after the uprising that toppled former Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Bin Ali in 2011.
The Italian island of 20 square kilometers, is considered by illegal immigrants from Africa as the gateway to Western Europe.
In 2011 alone, some 1,500 migrants, mainly from Tunisia and Libya, drowned while trying to reach the island.