TOPSHOT - This handout picture released on May 25, 2016 by the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) shows the shipwreck of an overcrowded boat of migrants off the Libyan coast today. At least seven migrants have drowned after the heavily overcrowded boat they were sailing on overturned, the Italian navy said. The navy said 500 people had been pulled to safety and seven bodies recovered, but rescue operations were continuing and the death toll could rise. The navy's Bettica patrol boat spotted "a boat in precarious conditions off the coast of Libya with numerous migrants aboard," it said in a statement.
The shipwreck of an overcrowded boat of migrants off the Libyan coast as seen in a handout picture released by the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) on May 25, 2016. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images

See Dramatic Photos of a Deadly Migrant Shipwreck Off Libya's Coast

May 25, 2016

A fishing boat carrying hundreds migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, the Italian navy said on Wednesday. About 550 have been rescued and five have been found dead so far.

A navy patrol boat approached the wooden fishing vessel when it appeared to be experiencing difficulty, but the boat soon flipped over, Reuters reports. Motorboats were deployed to conduct rescue operations. Swimmers helped migrants into life belts and pulled them toward the patrol boat. An Italian naval helicopter was also sent to the scene of the accident.

ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECH-RESCUEThe navy's Bettica patrol boat spotted "a boat in precarious conditions off the coast of Libya with numerous migrants aboard," it said in a statement. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 
TOPSHOT-ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK-RESCUEAt least seven migrants have drowned after the heavily overcrowded boat they were sailing on overturned, the Italian navy said. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images  
TOPSHOT-ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK-RESCUEThe navy said 500 people had been pulled to safety and seven bodies recovered, but rescue operations were continuing and the death toll could rise. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images  
ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATIONThe boat seen after it capsized, in a handout picture released by the Italian navy on May 25, 2016 Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 
TOPSHOT-ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK-RESCUEThe capsized boat seen from the Italian navy’s Bettica patrol boat. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 
ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECH-RESCUERescue operations taking taking place off the coast of Libya. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 
TOPSHOT-ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECK-RESCUEMigrants swimming towards the Italian navy’s Bettica patrol boat, that spotted the overcrowded boat in precarious conditions off the coast of Libya. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 
ITALY-REFUGEE-IMMIGRATION-SHIPWRECH-RESCUEMigrants being pulled to safety during a rescue operation of the navy after the shipwreck of an overcrowded boat of migrants off the Libyan coast on May 25, 2016. Italian Navy/AFP/Getty Images 

Officials have not yet revealed the nationality of the migrants.

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