A merchant ship carrying 400 migrants is heading towards the Italian coast after being abandoned by the crew, the Italian coastguard has said.
According to reports, the vessel called Ezadeen lost power in rough seas off the south-east of Italy while it was attempting to reach the Italian coast, BBC News reported.
The 73m-long Ezadeen, a Sierra Leone-flagged vessel, is currently being assisted by an Icelandic coastguard vessel and an Italian airforce helicopter, which has been sent to lower rescuers on to the vessel.
One of the migrants onboard managed to operate the maritime radio to send a distress call saying they were without crew and heading toward the Italian coast, the news agency said.
Earlier this week, almost 1,000 migrants arrived in Italy on a cargo ship after it was abandoned by the crew in the Adriatic Sea.
The previous incident witnessed the rescue of 970 migrants, mostly Syrians and Kurds, from the Blue Sky M vessel, which was spotted near the coast of Corfu.
The vessel had been left on autopilot and, when found by Italian coastguards, was safely docked at the Italian port of Gallipoli, according to BBC News.
The United Nations refugee agency reported that almost 160,000 seaborne migrants arrived in Italy up to November last year, Reuters stated.
The report said that at least 348,000 people attempted irregular sea crossing worldwide since January 2014, mostly migrants and asylum seekers.