The French military on Monday rejected allegations that its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier left migrants to die in the Mediterranean Sea in March, DPA reported.
The Guardian newspaper reported that a boat carrying 72 migrants had drifted in open waters for 16 days after running out of fuel 18 hours after setting off from Tripoli, on March 25.
The paper said "despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a NATO warship, no rescue effort was attempted."
All but 11 of the migrants, who were trying to get to the Italian island of Lampedusa, had died of hunger and thirst, the Guardian said, adding the warship was "likely to have been the French ship Charles de Gaulle."
A spokesman for the French armed forces categorically denied the aircraft carrier, which went into operation off the Libyan coast in late March, was implicated.
"The reviews are unambiguous. There was no contact with any boat carrying migrants, neither with the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier nor any of the other vessels in the air and sea ensemble that is positioned off the coast of Libya," Colonel Thierry Burkhard told France Info public radio.
Furthermore, he said, the Charles de Gaulle "had never been less than 200 kilometres from the city of Tripoli", or in the trajectory of migrants heading for Lampedusa.