World

Rescue operations under way for 700 migrants believed lost at sea south of Italy

  • Charts look at migrant deaths.; 2c x 6 inches; 96.3 mm x 152 mm;

    Charts look at migrant deaths.; 2c x 6 inches; 96.3 mm x 152 mm;  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis delivers his speech from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square during the Regina Coeli midday prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Referring to a boat crowded with migrants capsized in the sea north of Libya, Francis said:"There are fears there could be hundreds of dead", then  he bowed his head in silent prayer as did many of the tens of thousands in the crowd. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Pope Francis delivers his speech from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square during the Regina Coeli midday prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Referring to a boat crowded with migrants capsized in the sea north of Libya, Francis said:"There are fears there could be hundreds of dead", then he bowed his head in silent prayer as did many of the tens of thousands in the crowd. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis waves to faithful from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square during the Regina Coeli midday prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Referring to a boat crowded with migrants capsized in the sea north of Libya, Francis said:"There are fears there could be hundreds of dead", then he bowed his head in silent prayer as did many of the tens of thousands in the crowd. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Pope Francis waves to faithful from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square during the Regina Coeli midday prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Referring to a boat crowded with migrants capsized in the sea north of Libya, Francis said:"There are fears there could be hundreds of dead", then he bowed his head in silent prayer as did many of the tens of thousands in the crowd. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

A major air and sea search and rescue operation is under way south of the Italian island of Lampedusa after a migrant ship capsized.

Italy's ANSA news agency says an estimated 700 people were aboard and only 28 people have been rescued so far.

Barbara Molinario, spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency, said Sunday that the Coast Guard operation is continuing. She says the number of victims is not known.

The capsizing comes amid a wave of migrants trying to leave Libya for Italian shores. So far, at least 900 have died trying this year as boats capsized.