Credits: The Guardian

At least 20 people were feared dead after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants to Europe capsized in stormy seas near the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to authorities.

Following the accident on Saturday, 149 migrants have been rescued, including 13 women and three children, but dozens were still missing, the Italian coastguard said in a statement.

Five bodies, all female, were recovered on Sunday by Italian officials.

According to an initial reconstruction of events, the boat was carrying more than 160 people and had departed from Libya the previous day, taking advantage of a break in the bad weather. But according to the survivors, it soon ran into trouble when the wind whipped up.

Rough weather has hampered the search for those missing.

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