The deceased were reportedly travelling on a dinghy packed with migrants which had departed from Libya and was headed towards Italy.

The rescue operation was one of four in which around 500 migrants were brought to safety.

The UN migration agency reported that 94,802 migrants have reached Italy this year as of Sunday, a number on par with last year and representing 85 per cent of the European total.

The agency estimates that around 2,221 people have drowned this year while attempting to cross the perilous route across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

Meanwhile, Italy has failed in its attempt to manage the migration crisis with a code of conduct for rescue operations when several NGOs refused to sign the code on Monday.

The 12-point code outlines commitments that NGOs would have to adhere to in their search and rescue missions, including not entering Libyan territorial waters, cooperating with investigations into migrant trafficking, and being transparent with their funding.

Italian authorities stated that organisations who did not sign the code of conduct could be refused access to Italian ports and have to seek out alternative entry points to Europe.

While several organisations, including Save the Children, signed the code of conduct, many others refused to agree to the terms.

Doctors Without Borders director Gabriele Eminente said her organisation would not sign the code of conduct as it presented problematic points.

Last month, UNICEF stated that the code of conduct could hinder rescue efforts and put many lives at risk.