A Somali man has been arrested in Lampedusa in connection with the human trafficking of migrants whose boat sank leaving 366 people dead - mostly Eritreans and Somalis.

The man is also accused of violent sexual assault by a number of women who were being smuggled from North Africa.

Elmi Mouhamud Muhidin, 24, was arrested in the Italian island accused of being "one of the organisers" of a criminal smuggling gang of at least 50 Somali and Sudanese people, according to authorities in Sicily.

He was among 155 survivors who were rescued from the waters on 3 October and was hiding in Lampedusa amid the migrants.

He was identified by eight Eritrean migrants in interviews with prosecutors, who secretly flew to Lampedusa to make the arrest. He is also accused of sexual assault by at least 20 female witnesses.

A police report describes in detail allegations of rape: "One evening I was forced by the Somali man and other two guys to get out from the room where I was with the other refugees," said a 17-year-old Eritrean girl, according to Repubblica newspaper.

"After pushing me to the ground and blocking my arms and mouth, they poured gasoline over my head - causing burns to my hair, face and eyes. Then, the three of them raped me, without any sexual protective measure. After 15 minutes, they beat me and took me again inside the room, where I told the others what happened."

Sicilian authorities also detained a 35-year-old Tunisian named Khaled Bensalam, the captain of the boat, who is believed to be part of the same trafficking ring.

Italian authorities are cracking down on human smuggling operations which have been responsible for an influx of 35,000 asylum-seekers in 2013.

In a seperate investigation, a Palestinian man has also been arrested on Lampedusa for suspected people trafficking after organising a Syrian migrant boat landing.