Three Italian Coast Guard ships, two planes and a helicopter are searching for 150 refugees missing in the rough Mediterranean sea off the tiny island Lampedusa.
The boat carrying around 200 people from North Africa capsized and was found about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from the islet.
Rescuers were able to save 48 migrants and recovered 15 bodies at the scene who departed either from Libya or Tunisia .
The Italian Coast Guard received a call asking for help via satellite phone at around 4:00 local time (2:00 GMT) Wednesday, the BBC reported.
The rescue was made difficult by darkness and force-four gale in the area.
Since Tunisia ousted Ben Ali in January, around 22,000 refugees had arrived on Lampedusa. The Italian government has relocated them to the mainland and Sicily.
The country is working with Tunisia to patrol the flow of immigrants to the European country.
It was reported that 351 people arrived by boat on the tiny island on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Details of this report here.