Dozens of children were among the 400 illegal African migrants from Libya, who drowned in one of the deadliest boat accidents in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday.
According to 'Save the Children' and the International Organisation for Migration, who interviewed the survivors of the tragedy on Tuesday, the boat that was headed to Italy was carrying about 550 migrants, and it overturned around 24 hours after leaving the Libyan coast
The 150 survivors from that boat have been brought to a southern Italian port.
"Many young men, probably minor," were among the victims, Save the Children said, citing the refugees.
The survivors were mostly sub-Saharan Africans, a Save the Children spokesman told Reuters.
The rescue workers have recovered only nine bodies so far, but they believe there could be more bodies at sea.
The ongoing instability in the Middle East and Libya, including the rise of the Islamic State (Isis) has, forced thousands of Africans to seek refuge in European countries, and the Mediterranean Sea is the main route used by the smugglers.
In February this year, more than 300 drowned while trying to cross the sea in cold weather and rough water. According to UNHCR, in 2014, more than 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean and of these, at least 3,500 died at sea.
Migrant Traffickers Fire Shots at Rescuers
On Tuesday, during the rescue attempt, the migrant traffickers reportedly fired shots at the rescue workers to prevent their wooden boat from being confiscated after rescuers saved the occupants.
Reuters, citing the EU border control agency Frontex, noted that once occupants of the illegal boats were rescued, the migrant traffickers arrived on a speedboat and fired several shots into the air before speeding away with the empty migrant boat.
Frontex said this was the second time this year that armed smugglers had taken back a vessel used to transport migrants, following a rescue in the central Mediterranean.