At least 200 people are dead after a inflatable dingies, each carrying hundreds of migrants, overturned in rough seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesman Carlotta Sami said that 203 lives were “swallowed by the sea”, with rescue efforts only able save nine lives two inflatable dingys.

On Monday, at least 29 migrants died after their dingy they were travelling in overturned, but rescue workers managed to save 106 lives, according to the UNHCR.

The survivors talked of a fourth boat taking the same passage, but rescue workers have been unable to locate the vessel or any of its more than 100 passengers.

The tragedy has renewed calls for the EU to improve its search and rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean Sea.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said:

“While we applaud all involved in the rescue effort…this is an example of why it was felt important in October 2013, following tragedies that occurred then, to underline the need for a much more effective and improved rescue capacity in the Mediterranean to cope with the scale of the problem.”

In November 2014, Pope Francis warned the European Parliament not to let the Mediterranean become “a vast cemetery” after 600 migrants had to be rescued from the sea in similar conditions.

In January, 3528 migrants arrived in Italy by boat, with at least 50 losing their lives attempting to make the crossing.

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