Italian coast guard intercepts 340 migrants

17th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

A coast guard official said a merchant ship also spotted two other ships each carrying around 70 migrants and that dead body was seen in one of the vessels.

Rome -- The Italian coast guard intercepted three ships carrying more than 340 would be immigrants off the coast of Sicily on Thursday, an official said.

A coast guard official said a merchant ship also spotted two other ships each carrying around 70 migrants and that dead body was seen in one of the vessels.

"We have rescued a total of 343 immigrants during the night and morning" in Lampedusa, a small island south of Sicily, a coast guard official told AFP.

The largest group totalled 239 people, including 45 women and two children, and was intercepted after midnight near Lampedusa.

Two other boats were found later, one with 62 Somali migrants and another with 42 people.

Nearly 37,000 immigrants landed on Italian coasts last year, 75 percent more than in 2007, according to the interior ministry.

AFP / Expatica

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