Hundreds of migrants rescued off Sicily
210 evacuated from troubled boats in one operation alone26 August, 12:22
The Coast Guard received the call for help at 22:30 local time Sunday regarding the first boat, which was making progress with difficulty about 70 miles from the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
During the rescue operation, the patrol was alerted to another boat roughly 35 miles away with a failed motor and 110 passengers aboard.
The Coast Guard ship was headed for the immigrant detention centre on Lampedusa, and followed hundreds of other immigrants rescued or intercepted over the weekend. On Saturday, a distressed boat taking in water with 99 immigrants, thought to be of Eritrean origin, was intercepted in the channel and the passengers were taken to Syracuse by a merchant ship.
Also on Saturday, 22 Tunisian migrants were discovered on the island of Conigli near Lampedusa along with the tiny five-metre craft they arrived in.
Another 98 refugees, this time from Syria, were intercepted by a patrol of Frontex, the European agency for cooperation and management of EU borders, about 40 miles from the Sicilian coastal town of Porto Palo.
Among them were 25 children and eight women.
Another boat off the coast of Lampedusa on Saturday brought an additional 116 migrants - believed to be Somalians - to Lampedusa.