At least seven migrants drowned after a boat carrying them capsized five miles off the Italian island of Lampedusa early on Wednesday, ANSA news agency reported.
Another nine were still missing - but 46 people were rescued and were being brought to the Mediterranean island, the agency added.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made the perilous crossing in recent years, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Arrivals in Italy - one of the main migrant routes into Europe - had been falling, but numbers picked up again in 2021.
Almost 19,800 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, against just over 6,700 in the same period last year, data from the Interior Ministry show.
Almost 300 migrants landed on the island overnight on four other ships, local media reported.
The Coast Guard and the Finance Police were not immediately available to comment.