October 3, 2013 - 12:51 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - At least 42 bodies have been recovered after a migrant boat sank off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Thursday, Oct 3, an Italian coast guard spokesman said, according to Reuters.
He said 163 people had been pulled from the sea but others were still in the water and more deaths were feared.
Earlier, 24 people were reported dead.
The BBC News said the boat caught fire before sinking.
In August, bodies of six migrants apparently killed in a shipwreck have been recovered on a beach in southern Italy.
Officials in the Sicilian port of Catania say dozens of other migrants have been rescued. Italian media say the boat ran aground about 15m from shore and the migrants were thrown into the sea. Some drowned because they could not swim.
In September, Italian authorities seized a "mother ship" used to traffic illegal migrants across the Mediterranean and picked up about 200 Syrians fleeing the civil war in their homeland. European Union and Italian patrol boats chased down the fishing boat with a crew of 15 that had been used to ferry the immigrants into international waters near the Sicilian coast, prosecutors and police said. The vessel's crew had already transferred the refugees into a smaller boat for the final leg of their voyage. Italian police boats collected 199 migrants, including 64 children, all of whom were Syrian. The fishing boat was towed back to the port of Catania in Sicily. The seizure of the mother ship was a result of an investigation into the drowning of six migrants off Sicily in August, prosecutors said in a statement.
Almost 9,000 migrants reached Italy by boat between July 1 and August 10, the Interior Ministry said. In the 12 months up to August 10, more than 24,000 came, compared with more than 17,000 in the same period a year earlier, and almost 25,000 in the 12 months before that.
The UN said almost 500 people were reported dead or missing at sea during 2012 in attempts to reach Europe.