Many African migrants attempt to reach Europe via Libya
At least 14 people died when a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank in waters between Libya and southern Italy, navy officials say.
Some 200 others were rescued from the boat, which went down south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
This comes a day after it emerged that 36 migrants drowned last week when their boat sank off the Libyan coast.
Libya is used as a departure point by many African migrants trying to enter the European Union illegally.
Italy’s Ansa news agency said that the boat sank on Monday about 185 km (115 miles) south of Lampedusa.
Some Italian media reports said 400 were on board. But a navy spokesperson said it was not clear how many people were on the boat, so the number of missing passengers was unknown, AP news agency reported.
The Italian navy has sent a frigate and a helicopter to help in the search for survivors, the BBC’s Alan Johnston in Rome reports.
Unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels are continually setting out from Libya, carrying people who hope for better lives in Europe after fleeing war and poverty in various parts of Africa and the Middle East, our correspondent adds.
On Sunday, Libyan officials said at least 36 migrants from various sub-Saharan African countries drowned when their boat sank off the Libyan coast last week.
The numbers of migrants leaving for Italy had increased in recent days but authorities did not know why, Libyan Navy spokesman Col Ayoud Qassem said, quoted by Reuters news agency.
Late last year, hundreds of migrants drowned when two boats sank in waters off the coast of Lampedusa. Italy has since stepped up navy and coastguard operations.