The coastguard said in total it had rescued more than 500 people trying to reach Europe over the weekend. Most are from sub-Saharan Africa and departed from the Libyan coast,
A coastguard spokesman confirmed the rescue of 22 people from the sinking on Friday but could not confirm survivors’ accounts, reported by ANSA, that 31 were still missing and feared to have persihed.
Rescuers were still searching for any survivors, he said.
North Africa is a launch-point for migration to southern Europe, with Italy the main destination. Thousands of people have been killed attempting the dangerous crossing in overcrowded and frequently unsafe boats.
Those rescued over the weekend have been taken to reception centres on Sicily or the island of Lampedusa, the spokesman said.
Pope Francis this month visited Lampedusa to commemorate those who have died trying to reach Europe.
(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
(c) 2013 Thomson Reuters