Dozens of African would-be migrants were feared dead Saturday after their overloaded boat, which was heading to Italy, capsized a few metres away from the Libyan coast, the Ansa news agency reported.
The boat, which had departed early Friday with more than 600 people on board, was following in the trails of another vessel that carried 655 migrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa overnight, DPA reported.
Three babies and several women were among the 16 bodies recovered so far. A further 32 people were still missing, while some of the passengers were able to swim back to the shore, Ansa quoted a Somali journalist, Aden Sabrie, as saying.
A Somali woman who arrived in Lampedusa with the other vessel was reported to have been told that her son was among the victims.
Incidents of this kind are not uncommon in the Mediterranean.
Up to 200 people were feared to have drowned exactly a month ago when a boat carrying migrants from Libya capsized in rough seas off Lampedusa.
The number of migrants heading for Italy has surged since the latest wave of uprisings in North Africa.