Italy Navy Saves Hundreds off Sicily Coast
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Italian and Maltese rescuers searched for three boatloads of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, after earlier rescuing more than 300 on stricken vessels.
The naval forces rescued more than 120 migrants onboard four other boats struggling in rough seas in just one hour late on Thursday, as the immigration crisis that killed hundreds in shipwrecks in 2013 showed no signs of letting up in the new year.
Hours earlier, they rescued 233 mostly African migrants from one overcrowded 10m boat near Sicily.
The first boat had been sighted by a navy helicopter on Wednesday night as it ran into difficulty off the southern island of Lampedusa, Al Jazeera reported.
The fiberglass vessel was packed to overflowing as it tried to make the crossing of the Mediterranean waters near Lampedusa, south of Sicily.
The migrants were transferred on to the navy ship Zeffiro on Thursday morning and they were to be taken to a port near Syracuse, on Sicily's eastern coast, a statement said.
On board were men and women from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia and Mali as well as from Pakistan, the navy said.
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, 10,000 of them fleeing conflict in Syria.