Italian and Maltese naval vessels assisted by a passing cargo ship rescued some 400 migrants from a smugglers' boat in waters near Malta and found the bodies of 18 people inside.
The rescue was carried out early today and involved a Danish cargo ship in the waters near Libya and Malta.
Italian Coast Guard Captain Filippo Marini said one rescued migrant died on board a Coast Guard motorboat, raising the death toll to 19.
Maltese authorities said many of the bodies were in the vessel's hold. Italian authorities said engine fume inhalation was the apparent cause of death.
There was no word on the nationality of the survivors, who were taken to Italy.
Malta said that since Thursday some 5,000 migrants have been rescued by Italy, many with Maltese help.