Italy rescues 200 asylum-seekers

2013-08-26 18:36
Sri Lankan asylum-seekers sit on their Australia-bound boat in the Mentawai island group in West Sumatra. (File, AFP)

Sri Lankan asylum-seekers sit on their Australia-bound boat in the Mentawai island group in West Sumatra. (File, AFP)

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Rome - Two large dinghies carrying 204 asylum-seekers landed in Italy on Monday after being intercepted by coast guards south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The arrivals were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the vessels were on a cross-Mediterranean route taken by boats arriving from Libya, officials said.

One dinghy was spotted some 70 nautical miles south of Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost point and a major gateway for economic migrants and refugees entering the European Union.

The second dinghy was drifting and was rescued 35 nautical miles south of the first one.

The asylum-seekers have been taken to a temporary shelter on Lampedusa, where there are also around 100 migrants from Eritrea who arrived on Sunday.

Improved weather conditions and renewed upheaval in north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean have caused a surge in boat landings in Italy in recent weeks.

Most of the arrivals are from sub-Saharan Africa but some arrive from Egypt and Syria or further afield from countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

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