Malnourished survivors from a boat of illegal immigrants rescued by the Italian navy, told rescuers that 13 people died in the crossing from Libya.
Many immigrants die or drown trying to cross to Europe by sea every year
A total of 14 people were picked up in the boat as it drifted off the island of Lampedusa, near Sicily.
At least seven were taken to hospital in Palermo, Sicily's capital. Two were reported to be in a serious condition.
Thousands of illegal migrants try to enter Italy each year via Lampedusa, many in rickety boats.
The tiny island is closer to North Africa than to mainland Italy.
Stefano Bricchi, captain of the Italian Navy vessel Sibilla that rescued the immigrants, told Italian state TV the group were "extremely tired"
"They were all underweight, some extremely so," he said.
He added: "They told us that while they were at the sea, 13 had deceased and were thrown to the sea. We rescued 14 and apparently there were 27 when they left."