A fishing boat which sank, causing the death of hundreds of migrants last year, is being recovered by the Italian navy. The disaster is thought to have killed up to 800 people, making it one of the deadliest shipwrecks in decades of seaborne migration from North Africa towards Europe.

Public outrage at the disaster, in which only 28 people are known to have survived, prompted the European Union to restore rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

The navy has already recovered 118 bodies, but hundreds of corpses are believed to be trapped below deck, where survivors said migrants including many women and children were locked.

A large yellow frame apparatus attached to a ship was lowered into the water to a depth of about 370 metres, where it attached to the wreck and begun to lift it to the surface.

The hulk will now be placed in a 30-metre-long refrigerated structure while emergency services start recovering bodies from inside. Experts will examine and try to identify the victims.

The vessel deported from Libya in 2015 and sank 135km north of where it departed. Its remains will now be taken to the port of Augusta in eastern Sicily.