[QODLink]
Europe

Italian navy saves hundreds off Sicily coast

Crews have rescued more than 1,000 people after boatloads of migrants were spotted floundering in the Mediterranean Sea.

Last updated: 04 Jan 2014 02:20
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Italian and Maltese rescuers have saved more than 1,000 migrants in rough seas off Sicily since Thursday, authorities revealed.

The update on Friday came a day after navy helicopters spotted four migrant boats struggling to stay afloat in the Mediterranean Sea, as the immigration crisis that killed hundreds in shipwrecks in 2013 showed no signs of letting up in the new year.

The 823 men, women and children rescued from the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

In an earlier, separate operation, the navy rescued 233 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan and took them to a port on Sicily's eastern coast.

The first boat was first sighted by a navy helicopter on Wednesday night as it ran into difficulty off the southern island of Lampedusa. The fiberglass vessel was packed to overflowing as it tried to cross the Mediterranean waters near Lampedusa, south of Sicily.

Italy sea arrivals triple

Each year, thousands of migrants and refugees attempt risky voyages across the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats, and hundreds die en route.

Sea arrivals to Italy from Northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, fuelled by refugees from Syria's civil war and
political strife in the Horn of Africa.

Figures from the Italian Interior Ministry show about 25,000 migrants arrived by boat in 2013, with 10,000 of them fleeing conflict in Syria.

In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

246

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
The Pakistani government is proposing reform of the nation's madrassas, which are accused of fostering terrorism.
Weaving and handicrafts are being re-taught to a younger generation of Iraqi Kurds, but not without challenges.
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Featured
After years of rapid growth, Argentina is bracing for another economic crisis as inflation eats up purchasing power.
Deaths of 13 Sherpas in Nepal has shone a light on dangerous working conditions in the Everest-climbing industry.
Al Jazeera investigation uncovers allegations of beatings and rape in Kenya's ongoing anti-terrorism operation.
Incumbent Joyce Banda has a narrow lead, but anything is possible in Malawi's May 20 elections.
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
join our mailing list