More than 1,100 migrants rescued off Italy in one day – BBC
Italy's navy has rescued 1,123 people from inflatable boats in the space of 24 hours, as clandestine migration from North Africa reaches record levels. The latest migrants were found in eight boats and a barge about
Italy’s navy has rescued 1,123 people from inflatable boats in the space of 24 hours, as clandestine migration from North Africa reaches record levels.
The latest migrants were found in eight boats and a barge about 120 miles (222km) south-east of Lampedusa.
They included 47 women, four of them pregnant, and 50 children, all probably from sub-Saharan Africa, the navy said.
Meanwhile, at least seven migrants have drowned trying to reach the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa.
Local officials say the bodies of six men and a woman were found on a beach in neighbouring Morocco. The dead migrants were among hundreds of people who tried to enter Spanish territory on Thursday.
The Moroccan coastguard said it had picked up 150 of the migrants, while the rest swam back to shore.
All of the victims were reportedly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Some 2,000 migrants landed on Italian shores last month, nearly 10 times the number recorded in January 2013.
According to the government, last year saw an “incessant and massive influx of migrants” with a total of 42,925 arrivals by sea, or more than three times as many as in 2012.
The true number of migrants who died attempting the perilous crossing is unknown, but in October more than 400 people drowned in two shipwrecks near Lampedusa, the closest Italian territory to North Africa.
Wednesday saw better than usual weather conditions for the time of year.
Navy ships and helicopters began the rescue at 08:00 (07:00 GMT), continuing after darkness fell.
The migrants were put aboard an amphibious assault ship, the San Marco, and are due to arrive at the Sicilian port of Augusta on Friday morning.