Death toll in sunk boat off Italy could top 200, dozens still missing: reports
The disaster took place on Thursday off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, when a fishing boat carrying about 500 African migrants caught fire and sank.
Italian authorities have previously put the death toll at 94, including several women and four small children.
But according to the ANSA news agency, divers have found around 100 more bodies under the wreck of the boat that was carrying them from Libya.
Dozens of others are still missing and unaccounted for.
The 20-meter vessel caught fire after the migrants, mainly from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia according to media reports, set fire to a blanket after the ship started to take water in order to attract the attention of passing ships.
But the fire soon spread to the rest of the boat, and the ship capsided as migrants moved to avoid the fire.
"We decided to light a fire to get us notice. But the bridge was contaminated with oils, and in a few moments the boat was engulfed in flames," one of the migrants was quoted as saying by Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Divers were still searching for possible survivors of the deadliest accidents over recent months in the Mediterranean Sea crossing that thousands of African migrants make every year.
So far, 155 people have been rescued.
The ANSA news agency said the Italian police had detained one of the survivors - a Tunisian national suspected of being the "human trafficker."
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta described the accident as a huge tragedy. He rushed to the scene with Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.
Thousands of African migrants try the hazardous Mediterranean crossing to Italy every year. A recent study found some 6,200 migrants had died in southern Italian waters since 1994.
Related news releases
- 10.10.20152 explosions rock railway station in Ankara, many casualties reported
- 10.10.2015Turkish journalist detained for tweets critical of president
- 10.10.2015NATO mulls security as Russian ships pass by Bosphorus
- 09.10.2015Turkey: Fenerbahce chairman acquitted of match fixing
- 09.10.2015Bavaria threatens to take German government to court over refugees
- 09.10.2015International community calls for increased support for regional solutions
- 09.10.2015Nobel Peace Prize 2015 goes to Tunisian civil society groups
- 09.10.2015Turkey to send servicemen to Armenia
- 09.10.2015EU to speed up deportations to tackle migrant crisis
- 09.10.2015Protesters in Moldova turn down authorities’ proposal to begin talks
- 09.10.2015France agrees to safe zone, Syrian opposition says
- 08.10.2015NATO ready to defend Turkey, send troops if needed: Stoltenberg
- 08.10.2015Erdoğan: I don’t believe it meaningful to call Putin again
- 08.10.2015Merkel says still against Turkey joining the EU
- 08.10.2015Greek government wins confidence vote before first bailout review
- 08.10.2015Hungarian, Croatian presidents not allow refugee crisis to damage relationship
- 08.10.2015Merkel, Hollande plead for unity in face of EU crises
- 08.10.2015At least 14 Turkish soldiers wounded by PKK terrorists
- 08.10.2015Netanyahu cancels German visit as Palestinian attacks surge
- 07.10.2015Furious but powerless, Turkey left smarting by Russian action in Syria
- 07.10.2015NATO chief says Turkey capable of defending its airspace
- 07.10.2015Putin’s talks with Obama, Normandy Four leaders to help restore trust — Italian leader
- 06.10.2015EU presents Turkey with plan to stem flow of refugees
- 06.10.2015Erdoğan: If Russia loses Turkey, it would lose a lot
- 06.10.2015Turkey president's son has settled in Italy with his family, says Cumhuriyet daily - PHOTO
- 06.10.2015NATO secretary-general: Russian incursion into Turkey airspace 'no accident'
- 06.10.2015Nearly 5,000 seek asylum in Norway in Sept.
- 06.10.2015Death toll of flash floods on French Rivera up to 18, three still missing
- 06.10.2015NATO condemns 'extreme danger' of Russia's Turkish air incursions
- 05.10.2015Denmark tightens citizenship requirements
- 05.10.2015NATO denounces 'unacceptable' Russian incursion into Turkey in Syria air war
- 05.10.2015Turkey says Russian warplane violated its airspace
- 05.10.20157 PKK militants killed after Turkish police counteraction
- 05.10.2015Famous Turkish actress dies
- 04.10.2015Tens of thousands hold pro-refugee rally in Vienna
- 04.10.2015Two killed in England bus crash
- 03.10.2015Erdogan: Syria has border with Turkey, not Russia
- 03.10.2015OPEC President, Nigeria's former oil minister 'arrested in UK' - UPDATED
- 03.10.2015Turkish PM Davutoglu hails Merkel over refugee crisis
- 03.10.2015France's Hollande says Minsk process will likely not conclude by year-end