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Around 400 could have disappeared in “another tragedy”, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said. In a separate incident, six bodies were found and 108 rescued in Libya. Migration tops EU meeting.
Several hundred people are believed to have died after four migrant boats capsized in the Mediterranean. Unconfirmed media reports earlier spoke of a boat carrying up to 400 mainly Somali refugees drowned after leaving Egypt.
Only around 29 were reportedly rescued after the vessels sank on the crossing from Egypt to Italy.
Reports said those on board were fleeing Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and hoped to reach Europe.
The unconfirmed reports said survivors had been taken to a Greek island.
Speaking at a prize giving ceremony in Rome, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, said Europe needed to reflect in the face of "yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean in which, it seems, several hundred people have died.”
The incident comes exactly a year after around 800 migrants and refugees drowned, when the overcrowded fishing boat they were in capsized in waters between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa.
SIX DIED IN THE COAST OF LIBYA
In a separate incident, this Sunday six bodies were found and 108 migrants rescued from a rubber dinghy off the coast of Libya.
The boat was partially deflated, taking on water and its engine was out of use, SOS Mediterranee said.
There were citizens of several African countries including Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Ethiopia, who had been drifting for around nine hours before the rescue, in waves of around two metres high.
Survivors were being taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to Reuters.
“A STRONG REASON TO BE TOGETHER”
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said details were still unclear but said: "What is sure is that we are again with a tragedy in the Mediterranean, exactly one year after the tragedy we had in Libyan waters.”
"This is another strong reason for Europe to commit itself not in building walls but in strengthening our common commitment towards migration, especially towards Africa", he added.
"The numbers will not stop coming because they have no choice but to try and reach Europe," said Sarah Tyler, head of communications for Save The Children International.
"What they are leaving behind is not a life that is worth living, many children have told me. So, yes, the safe passage has to be implemented and search and rescue measures need to be continued", she concluded.
AROUND 6,000 SAILED TO ITALY IN JUST ONE WEEK
Almost 6,000 migrants and refugees sailed from Libya to Italy last week in what appears the start of a wave of at least 100,000 and "possibly many, many more" this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the UN says 180,000 people have attempted to reach Europe by sea this year, with nearly 800 lives lost.
EU DISCUSSES MIGRATION
The migration crisis will top the agenda of a two-day meeting of European Union Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Ministers that gets under way in Luxembourg today.
The meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the external dimension of migration and finding solutions to migratory pressures.
The ministers will also discuss the EU's regional strategy for Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan will attend the meeting. UN Special Representative for Migration has said that the Italian authorities and people are responding in a very constructive way to the crisis.