Italian authorities have arrested Mohammed Ali Malek the captain of the fishing boat that capsized off the coast of Libya, killing more than 800 migrants.

According to Italian prosecutors, the Tunisian captain is facing multiple homicide charges for his alleged role in the disaster, BBC News reported.

Syrian crew member Mahmud Bikhit was also arrested in connection with the shipwreck.

The 66ft-long boat sank after it collided with Portuguese merchant vessel, King Jacob, which was coming to its rescue.

"The death toll for this year is more than 30 times higher than the same period last year."

Authorities stated that the overloaded vessel capsized because so many people moved to one side when the merchant ship approached.

Both of the accused will appear in court on 24 April while charges are yet to be formally laid by a judge, the news agency said.

According to the UN, the latest incident is the deadliest recorded in the Mediterranean.

The 28 survivors of the accident arrived in Catania, Sicily. The majority are from Sub Saharan Africa from Mali, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that the death toll for this year is more than 30 times higher than the same period last year, which reached 56 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman was quoted by the news agency as saying: "IOM now fears the 2014 total of 3,279 migrant [deaths] on the Mediterranean may be surpassed this year in a matter of weeks, and could well top 30,000 by the end of the year, based on the current death toll.

"It could actually be even higher."

In 2014, around 219,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean and at least 3,500 lives were lost.