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Hundreds of migrants plucked from sea south of Sicily

Navy reports rescuing 690 in 24 hours, new wave of crossings

26 February, 17:12
Hundreds of migrants plucked from sea south of Sicily (ANSA) - Pozzalla (Ragusa), February 26 - A total of 218 immigrants, mostly from sub-Sahara countries, were rescued from the sea Wednesday and brought the total of new migrants in just two days to almost 700 people.

Plucked from the waters between north Africa and Sicily by three Italian navy boats, the new arrivals - including 26 women and dozens of minors - were delivered to the Sicilian coastal town of Pozzallo, near Ragusa.

Over the last 24 hours, the Italian navy reported it rescued 690 migrants from at least six different distressed vessels in the Strait of Sicily.

That included a harbour patrol boat that ferried 200 people stranded on a boat south of Pozzallo, while the frigate Grecale was sent to aid another 100 adrift southeast of Lampedusa.

Italian authorities rescued over 1,000 people at sea in a single weekend, February 15-17, after the end of a period of bad weather led to a resumption of migrant crossings. More than 4,000 migrants have arrived on Italian shores already in 2014.

Tens of thousands of migrants arrive in Italy from North Africa every year and many others die attempting the dangerous sea crossing in often rickety vessels. Boat arrivals in Italy more than tripled in 2013 from the previous year, fuelled by the conflict in Syria and strife in the Horn of Africa.