At least 40 migrants died after their boat sank at dawn off the Italian coastal city of Crotone in the southern region of Calabria, Italian media reported on Sunday.
News agency ANSA said at least 40 people were believed to have drowned.
The search for survivors was continuing, hampered by stormy seas.
AGI news agency quoted a rescue worker as saying a baby of just a few months old was among the victims.
It said the migrants’ vessel was overloaded and had split apart because of the violent waves.
Italian coast guards declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
The latest such tragedy comes just days after the hard-right government pushed through parliament a controversial new law on rescuing migrants.
Far-right president Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the post-Fascist Brothers of Italy party, won power in October, partly on a promise to stem the flow of migrants reaching Italian shores.
The new law forces migrant aid vessels to make just one rescue attempt at a time, which critics say risks increasing the number of drownings in the central Mediterranean.
The route is considered the most dangerous crossing in the world for people seeking asylum in Europe.
A large number of people flee conflict and poverty for what they hope will be a better life in Europe cross from Africa via Italy.