ROME, April 6 (UPI) -- Between 130 and 150 people are missing at sea after a boat carrying refugees from Libya sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa Wednesday, officials said.
Officials said the boat left Libya two days ago and was believed to be carrying more than 200 Eritrean and Somali refugees, ANSA reported.
"We fear that many people may be dead," a Lampedusa-based rescuer said.
Forty-eight survivors were rescued in the Channel of Sicily, rescuers said. At least one dead body was seen in the water.
The boat sank about 40 miles from Lampedusa in Malta's waters and the Maltese authorities were coordinating rescue operations, the Italian news agency said.
Difficult conditions have hindered operations, but an Italian coast guard official said it was too soon "to consider all hope lost."