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At least 13 migrants drown off coast of Sicily

Coast Guard scouring area, two suspected traffickers detained

30 September, 12:51
At least 13 migrants drown off coast of Sicily (updates previous) (ANSA) - Scicli, September 30 - At least 13 migrants drowned Monday as they tried to swim to the shore at the Sicilian town of Scicli after their boat ran into trouble. Italian emergency services recovered the bodies of 13 adult men after a bather sounded the alarm when migrants started pouring out of a boat that ran aground just metres from the shore.

A coast guard helicopter saved 14 migrants in the water.

Coast guard crews and divers are looking to see if there are more people to be saved or corpses to be recovered.

The boat was reportedly carrying around 200 people, most of whom are said to have fled on foot after reaching the shore. ANSA sources said two people suspected of being human traffickers have been detained. The disaster took place in an area that provided the setting for an episode of the popular Italian TV detective series Montalbano.

In November 2005 25 migrants died in a landing here.

Monday's disaster was similar to one in which six migrants died in waters near Catania in August. Waves of migrants arrive in Italy from North Africa every year, especially in the summer months when sea conditions are better, although many die attempting the hazardous crossing.

In his first papal visit outside the Rome area in July, Pope Francis travelled to a migrant processing center on the southern island of Lampedusa to greet refugees and commemorate those who died while trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.