The Coast Guard has so far saved 48 out of 200 believed to be aboard the rickety board, said Pietro Carosia of the Italian Coast Guard. But helicopters have also spotted a number of corpses in the sea, Carosia said, declining to provide a number.

Italian coast guard officials were trying on Wednesday to rescue migrants lost at sea after their boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island close to North Africa, officials said. Many were feared dead.

The Coast Guard has so far saved 48 out of 200 believed to be aboard the rickety board, said Pietro Carosia of the Italian Coast Guard. But helicopters have also spotted a number of corpses in the sea, Carosia said, declining to provide a number.

The ANSA news agency said about 20 bodies have been spotted.

The rescue operation was hampered by strong winds and rough waters, ANSA said.

Thousands of people, mostly Tunisians, have arrived from North Africa on Italy’s shores, fleeing the turmoil that has engulfed the region.

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