Updated | 17 bodies recovered after migrant boat capsizes

A migrant boat believed to be carrying around 400 people capsizes between Libya and Lampedusa

Italian authorities have recovered 17 bodies after a boat carrying migrants capsized about 80km off the coast of Libya and 160km south of Lampedusa. 206 people have been rescued and will be taken to the Sicilian port of Catania. It is feared that some 200 people may have died during the disaster.

Reports in the Italian media say that the boat was carrying around 400 asylum seekers.

A spokesperson for the home affairs ministry said the Armed Forces of Malta had offerred assistance to the migrant boat, but that the passengers refused.

Army sources said that the boat capsized at a point 40 nautical miles away from the Libyan coast, 105nm from Lampedusa, 164nm from Malta, and 36nm away from Malta's search and rescue region.

At 12:30pm, the Armed Forces of Malta asked the Italian coast guard whether they required assistance. AFM made a written request some time later, but their Italian counterparts said that they were coping with the rescue mission through aerial support.

Italian maritime authorities were informed of the incident by the crew of a tug boat servicing oil rigs in the area. According to initial reports, the boat capsized with around 400 persons aboard, of which around 200 were rescued, while the bodies of seven others have already been located by rescuers.

This is the second incident in as many days, with at least 40 asylum seekers losing their lives as a boat sank off the Libyan coast.

In October, hundreds of migrants died in two seperate incidents off the coasts of Malta and Lampedusa.

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