More than 200 migrants land in southern Italy
Published: December 19, 2007
ROME: More than 200 illegal immigrants crammed into a 16-metre long wooden fishing boat landed on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday, news agencies reported.
Illegal immigrants desperate to escape poverty in North and sub-Saharan Africa typically cross the Mediterranean to Italy in rickety, overcrowded vessels in summer, to take advantage of warm weather and calm seas. Such voyages are unusual in winter.
The 211 migrants, including seven women, probably set sail from Libya and were in good condition, news agencies said.
Authorities have said the overall number of migrants landing on Italian shores has dropped sharply this year, but illegal immigration remains a high-profile and divisive issue in Italy.
At least 21 migrants drowned off the southern Italian coast in late October in two separate incidents, prompting Egyptian and Libyan police to intensify a crackdown on illegal migration.