5 dead on immigrant boat on Italy coast

2012-03-17 18:11

Rome - Five people were found dead in a rickety boat which was carrying around 60 immigrants, the Italian coast guard said on Saturday, adding that a rescue mission was underway.

"The boat is carrying around 60 people, who appear to be from sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, five among them were found dead," said Giuseppe Cannarile, a lieutenant with the coast guard at Lampedusa island.

"We received an emergency call for help from the boat around 3am [02:00 GMT] this morning, and the coast guard patrol boats set off immediately to find them. They were about 80 miles from the coast," he said.

"There is a health emergency aboard, some of the immigrants are in a serious condition," said Cannarile, who added that there were two pregnant women among the passengers.