ROME (Reuters) - The Italian coastguard has rescued 22 migrants from a boat which sank off the coast of Libya but more than 30 are still missing at sea, ANSA news agency said on Sunday.
The coastguard said in total it had rescued more than 500 people trying to reach Europe over the weekend. Most are from sub-Saharan Africa and departed from the Libyan coast,
A coastguard spokesman confirmed the rescue of 22 people from the sinking on Friday but could not confirm survivors' accounts, reported by ANSA, that 31 were still missing and feared to have perished.
Rescuers were still searching for any survivors, he said.
North Africa is a launch-point for migration to southern Europe, with Italy the main destination. Thousands of people have been killed attempting the dangerous crossing in overcrowded and frequently unsafe boats.
Those rescued over the weekend have been taken to reception centers on Sicily or the island of Lampedusa, the spokesman said.
Pope Francis this month visited Lampedusa to commemorate those who have died trying to reach Europe.
(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp