ROME, Feb 11 : At least 300 migrants are feared to have drowned after attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa this week in rough seas, the UN says.
UNHCR Europe director Vincent Cochetel said the incident was a "tragedy on an enormous scale".
Nine survivors brought to the island of Lampedusa by the Italian coast guard are believed to be from West Africa. Initial reports on Monday suggested that at least 29 migrants had died after their dinghy overturned.
The UNHCR said that dinghy was one of four that left Libya at the weekend.
Those rescued on Wednesday morning had spent days drifting without food or water in two of the other dinghies - with each said to be carrying more than 100 people.
The survivors said the fourth dinghy disappeared at sea. Carlotta Sami, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR, said the victims had been "swallowed up by the waves," with the youngest a child of 12.
"This is a tragedy on an enormous scale and a stark reminder that more lives could be lost if those seeking safety are left at the mercy of the sea," Cochetel said in a statement. ?BBC Online