As many as 20 clandestine immigrants have died aboard a boat some 50 nautical miles south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the harbour master's office at the port of Agrigento in Sicily said.
Some 14 people were found alive on the 10-metre boat, although their condition is not thought to be good, La Republica website reported.
They are now on board the rescue vessel.
Two days ago, seven Somali migrants reportedly drowned when their boat capsized off the island.
The captain has been arrested and charged with multiple manslaughter and aiding and abetting illegal immigration, Italian radio reported.
It was earlier reported from Cairo that a group of 45 Egyptian illegal immigrants who set sail for Italy had been rescued after their boat capsized during bad weather at sea near Malta.
Maltese marine police rescued the Egyptians and transported them to a refugee camp on the Mediterranean island to await deportation, the Egyptian government Al-Akhbar daily reported in its Monday edition, citing an official of Cairo's foreign ministry.
A group of 148 Egyptians were flown back to Egypt under Maltese police escort in late September after they also tried to enter Italy illegally by boat, AFP reported.