Rome, April 18 (IANS/AKI) Over 400 migrants were believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean on Monday after four boats capsized and another began to sink, according to reports.
BBC Arabic cited Egyptian reports as saying over 400 mainly Somali migrants had drowned when four boats capsized after leaving Egypt.
The migrants had set sail from Egypt on Thursday and were heading for Italy, according to reports circulating on social media.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said there had been a “migrant tragedy”.
Speaking at a prize giving ceremony in Rome, 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”.
He did not give any further details.
Survivors were taken to a Greek island, according to the unconfirmed reports.
The Italian Coast Guard said they knew nothing about the reported disaster.
However, they were involved in the rescue of 108 migrants from a semi-submerged rubber dinghy off the coast of Libya on Monday. Six people died in the incident, according to the organisation SOS Mediterranee.
The boat had been drifting for nine hours in choppy seas, was partially deflated, taking on water and its engine was broken, SOS Mediterranee said.
They were citizens of several African countries including Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Ethiopia, SOS Mediterranee said.
Around 800 migrants and refugees drowned in April last year when the overcrowded fishing boat they were in capsized in waters between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa.