A Tunisian navy unit rescued 28 illegal immigrants as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian coast illegally, Tunisia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday.

The rescue operation took place on Thursday night, while they were aboard a sinking boat.

The boat, sailing toward the Italian coasts, sank 80 km from Ras Jedir, a city in south-eastern Tunisia, said a ministry statement.

The rescued people are of different nationalities, including 21 immigrants from Bangladesh, three Kenyans, one Pakistani, an Algerian, a Moroccan and a Ghanaian.

Thousands of illegal immigrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea every year, and Tunisia is one of the main points of access to Europe through irregular channels.