Officials said the migrants were found on nine different boats — six of them inflatable and three wooden. The dead body was recovered from one of the rubber dinghies, it said.
The coast guard said the migrants were transferred to rescue boats and were being taken to the Sicilian coast. It did not give details about their nationalities.
Most migrants crossing the sea from Libya to Italy come from Africa or the Middle East, usually paying people-smugglers for the sea passage.
More than 180,000 migrants reached Italy last year, a record number. The United Nations says more than 5,000 people died last year trying to cross the Mediterranean.