Rescuers saved about 3,000 migrants but found more than 50 dead on boats near the coast of Libya on Wednesday, the Italian coast guard said.
Tens of thousands of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have put to sea this year in the hope of reaching Europe, often dangerously packed into small vessels that were never designed to cross the Mediterranean.
Rescuers on the Swedish ship Poseidon, mobilised under the European Union’s rescue mission Triton, found 51 corpses in the hold of one boat which was also carrying 439 survivors.
Three women were found dead on a rubber boat carrying a further 120 people. One person rescued along with more than 100 others on another boat died shortly afterwards.
The coast guard did not say what caused the deaths, which add to a toll already thought to have exceeded 2,300 so far this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Read more