A Tunisian ship and a boat carrying some 70 migrants collided on Monday in the waters between Tunisia and Malta and at least eight people were killed, state news agency ANSA reported.
Four Italian ships and a Maltese aircraft were sent to the scene, authorities from both countries said, without confirming details of the accident.
ANSA said the migrant vessel had sunk.
Two Italian coast guard vessels, a finance police boat and a navy ship have been sent to assist in a rescue mission, an Italian coast guard spokesman said. The Maltese coast guard is coordinating the rescue, he said.
A Maltese plane was en route to the scene, a Maltese army spokesman said.