At least eight migrants have died and 86 have been rescued after a smugglers’ boat started to sink in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya.
Video footage of the rescue attempt has been released, which shows a number of migrants holding onto lifesaving floats in the sea.
A search and rescue mission is now underway to find any possible survivors, with an aid group not involved in the rescue claiming there may be dozens of migrants still missing.
There are fears there could be as many as 25 migrants which have died, although the Libyan authorities statement has not been confirmed.
Italian navy and coast guard vessels were involved in the rescue. Coast guard Commander Sergio Liardo told Italian state TV RaiNews24 that ‘it appears the dinghy deflated’ after a puncture.
Rescuers arrived at the scene in the early afternoon and around 20 migrants were in the inflatable while a number of others were in the water.
All eight of the victims have been confirmed as female and the rescue mission is expected to continue into the night.
Survivors of the tragic incident say there were around 150 migrants on the dinghy when it left Libya. Mr Liardo said: ‘We are looking for any eventual survivors.’
The Spanish humanitarian group, Proactiva Open Arms, said a number of the migrants had spent hours in the water before they were rescued.
They also expressed fears that dozens of migrants may still be unaccounted for.
A spokesman for Libya’s navy and coastguard said the boat capsized and sank in international waters and that they did not have the resources to rescue them.
The International Organisation of Migration has found there has been more than 3,100 recorded migrant deaths crossing Mediterranean in 2017, the International Organisation of Migration has found.