320 boat refugees rescued off Malta

2011-05-19 22:12

Valletta - About 320 boat migrants were rescued off the coast of Malta by the tiny Mediterranean island's navy on Thursday when they ran into trouble, a spokesperson told AFP.

The migrants, who are believed to be refugees from Bangladesh, Libya, Egypt and Mali, had sent a distress call when the engine of their 6m fishing vessel failed about 32km southeast of Malta, the spokesperson said.

They are expected to be transported to Malta later on Thursday.

According to the UN refugee agency, some 14 000 people fleeing Libya have arrived by boat in Malta and nearby Italy since the start of the conflict.

The agency estimates that about 1 200 people have gone missing at sea during attempts to cross the Mediterranean since March 25.