Italy: Death toll continues to rise after migrant ship sinks in Mediterranean

At least nine people died and several others were still missing after a ship carrying migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa, authorities said Monday.

The boat overturned shortly after midnight and, thus far, 22 survivors have been rescued, the Italian coast guard confirmed. The ship had roughly 50 people on board when disaster struck.

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Conditions in the Mediterranean were said to be rough and the vessel capsized after many of its passengers rushed to one side.

As rescue boats approached in response to an emergency call made from the vessel in distress, "the adverse weather conditions and the sudden displacement of the migrants" caused the boat to overturn, a statement from authorities said.

The statement described the ship as an "overloaded and already listing boat six nautical miles (11 kilometers) from the island of Lampedusa."

The first two bodies recovered were those of women, according to Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM). He also said the boat had begun its journey in Tunisia and its passengers were predominantly "Tunisians and western African migrants."

jsi/dr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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