Up to 100 people are feared dead after a migrant boat capsized off the Libyan coast. The Italian coast guard is carrying out a search operation in the frigid waters but so far only four survivors and eight dead bodies have been found.
There were about 110 people on board the vessel when it overturned about 30 miles off Libya's coast. Tough weather conditions pose a major hurdle for the searchers.
The French navy has also deployed a ship and two trade vessels to assist in the rescue operations with a plane and a helicopter providing aerial support. The nationalities of the passengers are still unclear.
Flavio di Giacomo, a spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IMO), said the emergency crew members' efforts have been hampered by rough seas and added there would be more information available soon.
According to official figures, up to 181,000 migrants, chiefly from the conflict-affected countries in Africa and Middle East, have reached the Italian shores in 2016 in search of a better life in Europe. Over 5,000 people have lost their lives while attempting the make the perilous voyage.