[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
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.