Irish navy ship the LE Niamh is en route to Palermo in Italy this morning with almost 400 rescued migrants on board.
The survivors were pulled from the waters of the Mediterranean yesterday when their boat sank on its way from Libya to mainland Europe.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) August 5, 2015
It is understood the ship went down instantly when migrants rushed to one side to be rescued.
When we ask people rescued why they risk their lives in this way, we get the same answer every time. “There is no alternative." 1/2— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) August 5, 2015
The exact death toll is uncertain as the rescue operation is still ongoing, but it is feared that up to 300 people may have drowned.
Commander Brian Fitzgerald from Naval Headquarters says the death toll is expected to rise.
"We can say for certain that the LE Niamh recovered 25 deceased people from the water," he said.
"But if the figures are 700, what we don't have is a tally yet of the number of people who have been rescued or recovered on board other vessels that were operating in the area and assisting with the rescue and recovery operation.
"Until such time as we get that we can't be sure, but we can be certain of one thing - that the death toll is going to rise considerably."