A major rescue operation is under way after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian coastguard has told the BBC.
Italian ships, the Maltese Navy and commercial vessels are all involved in the rescue operation in Libyan waters south of Italy’s island of Lampedusa.
The Italian coastguard’s spokesman said the operation in Libyan waters, about 130 miles (210km) off the coast of Lampedusa, was likely in the next few hours to become more focused on a search for bodies.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wrote on his Twitter feed that many people were feared dead.
The Times of Malta newspaper reported that the migrants fell overboard when they rushed to draw the attention of a passing merchant ship.