6 Apr 2011

Migrant boat capsizes off Italian island

9:19 pm on 6 April 2011

A search is under way for abourt 150 migrants missing in the Mediterranean after their boat capsized in rough seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italian rescue vessels and a helicopter have saved 48 refugees from the boat, which had been carrying about 200 people.

The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from the boat at about 4am local time on Wednesday, the BBC reports.

The boat was found 70km from Lampedusa, which has struggled to cope with thousands of migrants from Tunisia and more recently Libya this year.

Three Coast Guard vessels are involved in the search, along with two planes and a helicopter.

Italian officials say the rescue was initially hampered by the darkness and bad weather, with a force-four gale gusting in the area.

AFP is reporting that rescuers have spotted 15 bodies at the scene.