The United Nations' Refugee Agency said in a statement it was deeply saddened by reports of an estimated 170 people dead or missing.
Italian coast guard says 85 people rescued and eight bodies recovered so far. Last year, 3,116 people died trying to cross from North Africa to Europe, according to Doctors Without Borders.
The UN says 4,220 lives have been lost in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, making it the deadliest year for refugees.
The refugees were rescued from 39 overcrowded boats including rubber dinghies some 20 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.
The bodies of 21 women and one man are found aboard a dinghy on the Mediterranean by humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, 209 people are rescued.
Subscribe to our Youtube channel for all latest in-depth, on the ground reporting from around the world.
Copyright © 2023 TRT World.