A representative of Doctors Without Borders, who was at the scene, was cited by The Guardian on Friday as saying that around 160 bodies had been found floating near the partially-submerged fishing boat, with 40 more trapped inside.
The maritime accident is the most recent tragedy in a series of shipwrecks off the northern Libyan shore. Lethal incidents involving EU-bound migrants have been a weekly occurrence in the Mediterranean this month, with hundreds reported dead or missing.
Over 40 people died in an overcrowded boat on August 15, according to the Italian Navy. On 5 August, an estimated 200 people drowned in Libyan waters when their vessel sank, the United Nations said.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded 2,373 cases of migrants who died while attempting to reach Europe by sea this year. Thousands more have been picked up from dingy boats and brought to temporary asylum centers in southern Europe.