ROME The Italian coastguard and navy recovered the bodies of 11 Somali nationals about 35 miles (56 km) from the Libyan coast on Saturday and Sunday after the motorised raft they were using to try to get to Italy sank, the coastguard said.
Two coastguard boats and a navy ship pulled 70 other Somalis from the water, according to a statement sent on Sunday. The survivors and the dead were being taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The coastguard, an Italian tug boat, and a navy helicopter are continuing to search for survivors.
Thousands of people have been killed attempting the dangerous crossing from North Africa to Europe in overcrowded and frequently unsafe vessels. In the past few years, Italy has become the main destination for maritime migration to southern Europe, which is usually from Libya.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Andrew Osborn)