Dozens of migrants are feared dead after their boat sank off the Libyan coast while making its way to Italy. Italian authorities said they rescued 91 people from a rubber boat that deflated and sank in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

The asylum seekers claimed there were 115 on board when they left Libyan shores, the coastguard said, adding they also recovered a lifeless body. A coastguard official told IBTimes UK several vessels were currently searching for survivors in the area but had found nothing so far.

Footage from the scene showed rescuers throwing buoys to groups of migrants scattered at sea before pulling them to safety from the waters.

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Another 105 would-be refugees were rescued nearby from a second boat. They included a heavily pregnant woman, who later gave birth on the coastguard vessel taking them to Europe.

Both the woman and the child were reported to be in good condition. The coastguard said they are to be disembarked at Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, where they will be taken to a local hospital

A record number of more than 320,000 refugees and migrants have crossed EU borders so far this year, mainly through a dangerous sea route across the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy. Some 107,500 arrived in July alone, while more than 2,600 are believed to have died at sea since January.

About 115,000 have reached Italy, usually crossing on rickety boats operated by smuggler gangs based in Libya.