Tunisian coast guard boats and local fishermen found and retrieved the bodies in the waters off the coastal city of Sfax in central Tunisia, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ben Zekri told The Associated Press.
The boat was overloaded and in poor condition, and faced strong winds Thursday morning that may have contributed to the sinking, said National Guard spokesman Ali Ayari. It was carrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, he told The AP.
Tunisian navy units were searching for any more survivors.
Tunisian authorities say they have intercepted several migrant smuggling boats recently but that the number of attempts has been growing, notably between the Sfax region and the Italian island of Lampedusa.
More than 1,100 migrants have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean this year, according to estimates from the International Organization for Migration.
Migrant smuggling boats frequently leave from the coast of Tunisia and neighboring Libya carrying people from across Africa, including a growing number of Tunisians fleeing prolonged economic difficulties in their country.
Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed.