At least two hundreds migrants are dead after the motorboats they were travelling on sank in the Mediterranean Sea, the UN’s refugee agency says.
“Nine were saved after four days at sea. The other 203 were swallowed by the waves,” UNHCR’s spokeswoman in Italy, Carlotta Sami, said on Twitter.
She called the situation a “horrible and enormous tragedy”.
On February 9, at least 29 migrants died after the inflatable boat carrying them overturned in high seas.
Seven were already dead when they were picked up near the Italian island of Lampedusa, and a further 22 succumbed to hypothermia after spending more than 18 hours on the open deck of the vessel which picked them up.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the two boats involved in the latest tragedy to befall migrants bound for Europe crossing the Mediterranean Sea had departed from the Libyan coast on February 7.
The IOM says that each boat was carrying more than 100 people when they capsized, probably on February 9.
The nine survivors all speak French, and are believed to be from West Africa.
The Italian government launched a search and rescue mission called Mare Nostrum to patrol the waters off the Libyan coast for ships carrying migrants that may have run into trouble in response to a previous tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa.
The mission was launched after a fishing boat capsized off the island in October 2013, killing 366 people, but was disbanded a year later.