Rescuers are searching for hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean after the boat they were on capsized off Libya.
Some reports suggest as many as 700 people were on board the overcrowded vessel when it came into difficulty.
The Irish navy said it feared “a significant loss of life” and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) confirmed several deaths but gave no more details.
More than 2,000 migrants are said to have died in 2015 trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Wednesday’s incident occurred when the packed fishing boat ran into rough weather around 15 miles (25km) from the Libya’s coast.
Four boats and three helicopters were dispatched to help with the rescue after a distress call was picked up in Sicily.
A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said about 100 migrants had been pulled from the water.
MSF said its Dignity I vessel was at the scene and two more of its boats were on their way to the area.
“The team on the #Dignity1 can confirm that there have tragically been many deaths but does not have figures at this stage,” MSF said in a tweet.
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