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Boat with 140 Egyptian, Syrian refugees lands in Italy

AFP, Friday 23 Aug 2013
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A boat carrying 140 asylum seekers who told police they were from Syria and Egypt landed in Italy on Friday, television images showed and officials said.

The group included 29 women and 31 minors and their rickety wooden boat was intercepted by a border guard vessel off the coast of Syracuse in Sicily.

Border guards said the pilot of the boat, which measures around 15 metres (49 feet) in length, was Egyptian and had tried to avoid detection.

"They were spotted just a few miles from the coast," said local border guard official Antonino Spampinato, as the refugees were helped off the boat in port.

He said the region around Syracuse had seen only very few migrant arrivals until May of this year but that 5,000 have arrived over June, July and August.

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