AT least 45 migrants including a baby have died after their wooden boat broke apart in a storm off the coast of Italy.
The overloaded vessel was destroyed as it crashed into rocky reefs on Sunday, with children among the victims.
At least 45 bodies have so far been recovered along the shore.
Among those killed was a baby who was just a few months old, Italian news agency AGI reports.
Some 81 survivors have been pulled from the water, with 22 rushed to hospital.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni said that the migrants were crowded into a 66ft long boat in adverse weather conditions.
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It is understood the boat left from Izmir, Turkey,three or four days ago with up to 150 migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia on board.
Coast guard officials said the boat hit rocks "a few metres from the shore".
A chunk of the boat, along with piles of splintered wood, littered the beach at Steccato di Cutro, part of Calabria's coastline along the Ionian sea.
Some of the survivors tried to keep warm, wrapped in what appeared to be colorful blankets or sheets.
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A helicopter and motorboats were deployed in search efforts, including vessels from state firefighters and border police.
A Coast Guard motorboat rescued two men suffering from hypothermia and recovered the body of a boy in the rough seas, it said in a statement.
Firefighter boats, including rescue divers, recovered 28 bodies, including three pulled by a strong current far away from the wreckage.
Meloni said: "It's inhumane to exchange the lives of men, women and children for the price of a ticket paid by them in the false prospect of a safe voyage."
Pope Francis said he was praying for everyone caught up in the incident
He said in his weekly address to crowds in St. Peter's Square: "I heard with sorrow of the shipwreck off the Calabrian coast near Crotone.
"Already 40 dead have been recovered, many of them children.
"I pray for every one of them, for the missing and for the other surviving migrant."
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