Rescuers have found no more survivors from the shipwreck of a boat in which 400 migrants are believed to have drowned off the Libyan coast.
The vessel capsized on Sunday with survivors who were brought to Italy telling charity workers that as many as 400 others perished.
Italian coastguards, who intercepted 42 boats on Sunday and Monday alone carrying 6500 migrants attempting to make the hazardous crossing to Europe, confirmed that they had saved 145 people from the sunken boat and found nine bodies.
Coastguard spokesman Commander Filippo Marini told AFP on Wednesday that they had not found any more “survivors or anything else which would indicate more victims”.
He said he could not exclude that more lives had been lost, and said the kind of vessel from which the 145 people were rescued usually carried many more people.
Search operations were continuing on Wednesday as part of ongoing naval and coastguard patrols in the area.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the charity Save the Children said that 150 survivors of a shipwreck arrived on Tuesday morning in the southern Italian port of Reggio Calabria.
“There were 400 victims in this shipwreck, which occurred 24 hours after (their vessel) left the Libyan coast,” Save the Children said in a statement.
“There were several young males, probably minors, among the victims” and also children among those rescued.
IOM spokesman in Italy, Flavio Di Giacomo, says several survivors have said there were between 500 and 550 people on board.
So far more than 8000 migrants have been picked up since Friday.