The death toll was raised to 121 Sunday with as many as 250 passengers still unaccounted for in the waters off the island of Lampedusa.
The boat was one of many that regularly smuggle immigrants from North Africa into Sicily and other Italian islands. The vessel's motor died off Lampedusa and then caught fire when the skipper lit a signal fire on the deck in order to attract attention.
The BBC said 155 survivors were picked up, mainly by fishing boats in the area. The Italian coast guard has denied it was slow in responding to the report of the sinking.