Migrant ship capsizes off Sicily, Italy

13 October 2013 (Last Updated October 13th, 2013 18:30)

A migrant ship carrying around 250 migrants has capsized about 60 nautical miles south of Sicily, Italy.

A migrant ship carrying around 250 migrants has capsized about 60 nautical miles south of Sicily, Italy.

The Italian and Maltese navy ships have so far recovered 34 bodies and rescued around 206 migrants.

The incident comes a week after the boat carrying 500 migrants from Libya to Italy capsized in Lampedusa, an island between Sicily and Tunisia, due to fire, which resulted in about 300 deaths.

The latest tragedy can be attributed to the overloading of the boat with migrants.

Italian coast guard spokesman Marco Di Milla said they received a distress call via satellite phone from the boat and were able to locate it based on the satellite coordinates.

Based on the inputs from the sinking ship, a patrol boat and a Maltese aircraft were sent to the spot, where the aircraft dropped a life raft to save the migrants.

The incidents have prompted the European Union to improve its patrol services in the southern Mediterranean in an effort to prevent such tragedies in future.

A study by Fortress Europe, an Italian observatory that tracks migrant deaths, found that about 6,450 people have died in the Canal of Sicily between 1994 and 2012.

Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the European Union must take immediate action following the latest tragedy, adding Malta felt ‘abandoned’ by the rest of Europe.

"This is not just another wake-up call for Europe. This is the time for action," he added.