A handout picture taken on August 20, 2016 by the Italian Red Cross shows a migrant aboard a rescue boat run by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station. (Representative Image) Photograph: (AFP)
Fumes rising from water and fuel mixing together might have led them to lose consciousness, the head of rescue operations said
At least 28 dead bodies have been found "in a pool of fuel" off the Libyan coast today, AFP reported.
The boat had set sail for Italy just hours before the incident, according to a report by Al Jazeera.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that among the dead, 21 were women.
A ship patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea managed to pull 209 people, including 50 children, to safety on Wednesday.
The MSF head of mission said that the rescue team saw dead bodies lying at the bottom of the boat in a pool of fuel.
He said that it seemed like water and fuel was mixed together and the fumes from this might have led them to lose consciousness.
The survivors were brought to Sicily.
The number of refugees and migrants who have left Libya this week on overcrowded boats to Europe is on the rise, Italian authorities said.
A UNHCR report says that more than a million refugees and migrants reached European shores by boat in 2015,
A team of trauma specialists would be on hand to help Wednesday's survivors when they reach land, the MSF head of mission informed.
(WION with inputs from agencies)