749 migrants rescued in Italy, hundreds feared dead

2014-07-20 13:31
(Italian Navy, AP)

(Italian Navy, AP)

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Rome - More than 700 migrants were rescued in five different operations, the Italian navy reported on Sunday, while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) warned that hundreds may have died at sea.

The navy said it picked up 749 people on Saturday, including 100 women, 61 children and one baby.

The migrants have yet to arrive on Italian shores, it added. According to the IOM, 5 200 boat migrants landed in Italy between Friday and Saturday, further boosting this year's record tally.

At least 80 000 are estimated to have arrived since 1 January, compared to less than 43 000 all of last year.

In a statement released late on Saturday, the IOM also said that, according to accounts from other migrants, 240 Eritreans who set off from Libya on 27 June have gone missing and may have drowned on the way.

On Saturday, 18 people were found dead in the hold of a migrant ship rescued in Maltese waters. One passenger died after being rescued.

There were also reports that dozens of people had perished off the coast of Libya.

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