At least 28 Europe-bound migrants were found dead on Tuesday, while some 4,655 people were rescued, including at least 22 in an overloaded wooden boat, after a day of frantic rescues off Libya, an AFP photographer and the Italian coastguard said.
“It was a wooden vessel and there were about 1 000 people on three levels. I counted 22 bodies and there are still others in the hold,” the AFP photographer Aris Messinis, said on telephone.
Mr Messinis’s graphic images showed the bodies of dead young men and women, piled on top of one another on the deck of a dinghy and in the cramped hold of a wooden boat.
The death toll is at least 50, while the total number rescued over the past two days is more than 10,000.
Also speaking, Italian and Libyan officials on Monday said 6,055 migrants were rescued – one of the highest numbers in a single day – and 22 found dead.
Late on Tuesday, the Italian navy took over helping survivors and retrieving bodies, the photographer said.
The surge takes the number of migrants who have arrived in Italy this year to about 142,000 and the death toll to about 3,100, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
The majority come from African countries, including Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Gambia, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Somalia.