United Nations officials are investigating reports that an overcrowded ship with 600 people aboard sank Friday "just outside the port of Tripoli," The Associated Press says.
According to the wire service: "Aid officials were still trying to confirm the fate of those people after the vessel broke apart Friday in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said. Witnesses who left the Libyan capital on another boat shortly afterward reported seeing remnants of the sunken ship and the bodies of some passengers floating in the sea, she told The Associated Press."
The BBC says that while some people may have been able to swim to shore, "several hundred ... are feared to have drowned. ... The UN's refugee agency said 16 bodies, including two babies, had been found."
Refugees, many from other North African nations, have been trying to get out of Libya and make their way to Europe because of the ongoing battles between forces loyal to (or paid by) the regime of Moammar Gadhafi and the Libyans who are trying to force the dictator from office.