Some 22 bodies have been recovered from the Mediterranean, along with 209 survivors, in a naval rescue mission run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the medical charity said Thursday.
The migrants were intercepted on Wednesday while travelling in two dinghies, MSF wrote on its Twitter account, adding that there were 21 women and one man among the dead.
"Twenty-two people fleeing from violence and poverty died at sea trying to give a future to their children," the head of Doctors Without Borders Italy, Loris De Filippi, wrote on the social network, urging the European Union to open legal migration channels.
In a separate statement, the Italian coastguard said a total of 567 migrants were plucked from the sea on Wednesday in five separate rescue operations, also involving the Italian navy and the Maltese charity MOAS.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that 2,954 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since the start of the year. This compares with just under 2,000 in January-July 2015.