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Italian coastguard rescues 700 Syrian asylum seekers

January 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

The Italian Coastguard Service announced on Wednesday that it has rescued around 700 asylum-seekers, most of them Syrians including many children, on board three boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the boats was spotted by a patrol aircraft about 185 km from the port of Syracuse on the south-east coast of Sicily. Coastguard vessels accompanied the asylum-seekers’ boats into Italian waters.

The other two boats landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, south-west of Malta and a major gateway for illegal migrants trying to get from Africa to Europe. The island’s migrant detention centre, built to accommodate 350 people, is now at bursting point with an estimated 1,200 men, women and children within its walls.