Dozens dead as migrant boat capsizes off Sicily

Monday 14 October 2013 12.30
Dozens of people died after the boat capsized (Pic: Google Maps)
Dozens of people died after the boat capsized (Pic: Google Maps)

Dozens of people have died after a boat carrying around 250 migrants capsized between Sicily and Tunisia, in the second such shipwreck this month, the Italian coastguard has said.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that around 50 corpses had been sighted, including around 10 children, following the incident about 100km south of the tiny island of Lampedusa.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told a news conference in Valletta there were indications at least 27 people had died "and the number is expected to rise, possibly drastically".

At least 339 people drowned on 3 October when a boat carrying Eritrean and Somali migrants sank near Lampedusa, southwest of Sicily.

The Maltese navy said one of its ships had rescued 150 migrants from today's wreck and an Italian navy vessel had saved 56.

The most seriously injured were being taken by helicopter to Lampedusa.

Maltese authorities were coordinating the rescue operation, which was in international waters but in a Maltese rescue zone, and a Maltese ship was on the scene, a spokesman for the island state's navy said.

The boat was spotted in difficulty by a Maltese military plane at around 2pm, which dropped a liferaft.