Italian coastguard says it recovered bodies of 13 women, some of them pregnant, after a small overloaded boat carrying around 50 migrants capsized off Lampedusa.
The Italian coastguard said on Monday it had recovered the bodies of 13 women, some of them pregnant, after a small boat carrying around 50 migrants capsized off Lampedusa.
Around a dozen people, reportedly including eight children and other pregnant women, are still missing after the overloaded boat sank off the coast of the southern Italian island, the coastguard said.
The coastguard and a customs vessel on Monday saved 22 of the people who fell in the water as the rescue ships approached around six nautical miles (around 11 km) from Lampedusa.
They had rushed to the aid of an "overloaded and already listing boat" shortly after midnight on Monday, a statement said.
As the rescue vessels approached, "the adverse weather conditions and the sudden displacement of the migrants" caused the boat to capsize, it said.
'People can't die like this'
Italian media reported that the boat had left Tunisia with Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans on board.
"People can't die like this," said Lampedusa's mayor Toto Martello.
"We must identify the smuggling networks and encourage actions to make the Mediterranean safer," he said of Monday's disaster, the latest in a series in the central Mediterranean.
Italian helicopters and vessels were searching for more of the missing.
Italy on Thursday marked the sixth anniversary of the sinking off Lampedusa of a boat carrying around 500 African migrants on October 3, 2013.
A total of 366 people died in that disaster. It plunged Italy into mourning and prompted the vast naval rescue exercise Mare Nostrum before further sinkings led the European Union and charities to send their own rescue vessels.
The International Organization for Migration said that at least 19,000 migrants have drowned or gone missing while making the perilous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe since 2016.
Dangerous crossing from Libya
Doctors Without Borders said the Ocean Viking ship it operates has been asked by Italian authorities to join the operation.
Non-governmental organisations say as many as 30 migrants, including eight children, could be missing.
The UN refugee agency said the deadly shipwreck "highlights once again that urgent action is needed to address the situation on the Mediterranean."
UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley in Geneva called for the EU to resume its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea, where more than 1,000 migrants have died so far this year, most of them on the dangerous crossing from Libya.