Almost 170 people are feared dead after a boat carrying over 200 migrants went missing at a sea some 60 kilometers east of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, various newspapers are reporting.
"We are looking for 170 African passengers on a wooden boat that has foundered off the Guarakouzi area," Malta Today quoted a coastguard official Abdellatif Mohammed Ibrahim as saying.
"A few miles off the coast, we found the remains of a wooden boat which had had some 200 migrants on board," he said adding that they found "16 individuals alive, the rest are lost. We are investigating the rest. There were 20 bodies, found dead in the water."
Although the official was unable to confirm the details of the nationalities of the victims or survivors, he said: "It seems that among them are Somalis and Eritreans."
A country struggling to get past its political chaos and unrest, Libya, has in recent times, been a launch pad for illegal migrants trying to seek better lives in Europe.
Reports have also suggested that they constantly turn themselves to human smugglers to get them across the Mediterranean.
Many migrants setting sail in rickety vessels are reported to have died in the sea, since the end of July.
An AFP journalist has been cited by news publications as saying that he witnessed the body of a child wearing a life-jacket.
Aljazeera notes that 'People-smuggling' has, of late, been a thriving business in Libya, a country marred by unrest where the interim government lacks proper resources to guard the coast.
Friday's incident comes close on the heels of another incident on Thursday, where Tunisian fishermen rescued 75 migrants who had been drifting at sea for five days after leaving Libya in an inflatable in their mission to reach Italy.