At least 40 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean and another 312 had to be rescued, the Italian navy said after encountering their boat Saturday.
Additional details about how the 40 died were not immediately available.
The navy said that it had transferred the survivors to the Norwegian supply ship Siem Pilot, which is patrolling the central Mediterranean as part of the
ongoing European Union effort to assist seafaring migrants.
Last month the Siem Pilot ferried 785 migrants safely to port after the Italian coast guard rescued
them from a wooden boat and a rubber dinghy off the Libyan coast.
Saturday’s episode is the latest in a string of disasters in the Mediterranean in what has been a
deadly year for migrants at sea.
The International Organization for Migration (IOMC) said more than 2,300 migrants have died making
the journey from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe in 2015, already making it the deadliest on record.
U.N.: Record numbers of migrants cross
Mediterranean to reach Europe
Rescues off the Italian and Greek coasts meanwhile are occurring at a rate of more than 1,000 migrants
per day, according to IOMC.
“These latest tragedies underscore the dangers faced by migrants in the Channel of Sicily, now the
deadliest route for those fleeing violence, natural disasters and abject poverty,” the migration agency said in a statement.
IOMC predicts the number migrants arriving on European shores will reach a quarter-million by the end of August, a number that would surpass the total number from 2014.