Italy rescues 200 migrants from rickety boat in Mediterranean

AFP , Saturday 11 Jan 2014

The Italian navy said Saturday it had rescued 200 migrants, including women and children, attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat in rough winter seas.

A military vessel swept to the aid of the refugees travelling in a rickety, overcrowded boat without life jackets, read a navy statement.

The interior ministry said 1,050 migrants had arrived in the country in the 11 days since the start of the year and officials were looking for places to house them.

The Italian government has launched a major operation called "Mare Nostrum", mobilising warships, amphibious vessels and aircraft to try prevent further tragedies like the two shipwrecks in October in which more than 400 immigrants died.

Immigration charities estimate that between 17,000 and 20,000 migrants have died at sea trying to reach Europe over the past 20 years, often crossing on rickety fishing boats or rubber dinghies.

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