The Italian Navy has discovered around 30 bodies onboard a fishing boat carrying close to 600 migrants to Sicily from North Africa, say the Italian media, citing the navy and coastguard.
The suspected cause of death seems to be asphyxiation, according to news agencies.
This is not the first instance in which Italian rescue crews discovered bodies on overcrowded boats, but it is certainly the accident with the highest number of casualties.
The fishing boat is currently being towed by the Italian Navy, and will reportedly arrive in Pozzalo, Sicily later today.
More than 1,600 migrants were rescued by Italian authorities over the past weekend, bringing the total number of rescued migrants so far this year to above 60,000.
The death toll from boat accidents in the Mediterranean Sea this year is skyrocketing as increasing numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees make the journey on unseaworthy boats, often at the hands of ruthless smugglers.
World Maritime News Staff, June 30th, 2014; Image: Italian Defence Ministry