A new tragedy at sea occurred Friday near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, where 50 people died Friday when a boat carrying more than 200 undocumented immigrants sank.

The tragedy came eight days after at least 339 African migrants died in another shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa.

More than 200 people were rescued in the Strait of Sicily after Friday's wreck, the Italian coast guard said.

As the ship foundered in Maltese waters, Malta led the initial rescue effort and 150 of the survivors were taken to the island nation.

The shipwreck occurred a day after the search ended for bodies from the Oct. 3 capsizing near Lampedusa of a fishing boat carrying some 500 Somali and Eritrean migrants.

An official note from the Maltese navy said that Friday's shipwreck occurred around 5:10 p.m., when the migrants spotted a patrol aircraft and, in an attempt to attract the pilot's attention, began jumping up and down and waving, causing their boat to flip over.

The emergency management squad that dealt with the accident on Friday was established as a consequence of last week's disaster.

The response team comprises elements from both Italy and Malta.

After witnessing with his own eyes the previous fishing-boat drama, European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said two days ago that "the European Union cannot look away."

Italy had asked that the Lampedusa tragedy prompt the European Union to face with solidarity the immigration phenomenon, and in response, Barroso said Friday that "Italy's problem has to be seen a a problem of all Europe."

In the first eight months of 2013, 21,241 undocumented migrants arrived on Italy's coasts, up from 15,570 in all of 2012, according to a study conducted by Censis, an Italian non-profit social sciences and economics institute. EFE