Mediterranean migrants
The Italian navy intercepts a boatload of migrants in the MediterraneanMarina Militare/Reuters

A Somali migrant travelling on a rubber boat carrying 102 people has pleaded for help in a telephone call with IBTimes UK after the vessel ran out of fuel.

"The boat situation is not good. We don't have enough food, the gasoline is empty, all the people are sick. The boat is too heavy," Abdullah Sharif told IBTimes UK.

The boat set sail from Tripoli, Libya, three days ago and is carrying 40 to 50 women, according to Sharif. Two children, including a two-week-old baby, are also in the boat. Sharif said: "We're lost in the sea, nobody knows where we are, our location."

Eritrean-Swedish activist Meron Estefanos, who received the first distress call from the boat, alerted the Italian navy to the incident. "The Italian coast guard told me they are 30 minutes away," she told IBTimes UK.

Sharif issued a desperate appeal for help in the interview. "Don't let them go away," he said, referring to the Italian rescue ship on its way to his stricken vessel.

The development came as dozens of migrants are feared to have been killed in a new Mediterranean tragedy after one of the rubber boats they travelled on sank off the Libyan coast.

Witnesses rescued by the Zeran merchant ship told Save the Children they saw people falling into the sea and drowning as the rescue vessel was approaching. "Some people saw 10 migrants dying, others up to 40 because they couldn't swim," Giovanna di Benedetto, spokeswoman for Save the Children, told IBTimes UK.

Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IBTimes UK the death toll reached 46, all through drowning.

More than 6,000 people have been rescued in several operations while making the perilous crossing from Libya to Europe since 2 May.

UPDATE 6pm GMT Italy coast guard said that they are involved in six rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

UPDATE 6 MAY: Italy rescued about 600 migrants in six operations, one in cooperation with Maltese authorities, in the past 24 hours, according to al-Jazeera.

Those rescued included 102 migrants who were stranded on a rubber boat in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, according to the news site.