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Migrants arrive on the Italian island of Lampedusa after Italian police and coast guards launched a major rescue effort. AP Photo/Francesco Malavolta
Sea Rescue

Over 400 migrants fleeing Libyan unrest rescued off Italian coast

Panicked migrants began falling and jumping into the sea after their boat was pushed against rocks off a small Italian island.

ITALIAN POLICE and coast guard officials rescued some 400 illegal migrants coming from Libya whose boat was tossed against rocks near port in southern Italy after the steering malfunctioned, officials said today.

Images of the rescue showed panicked migrants jumping or falling into the choppy waters as their boat heaved in the waves off the tiny island of Lampedusa.

Some managed to make their way to shore holding on to ropes that had been attached to the boat’s stern; others were hauled up on shore by rescue crews in the water.

Police official Fabrizio Pisanelli said the boat’s steering had stopped working as the boat was nearing Lampedusa’s port shortly after 4 am today. Strong winds had pushed the boat against rocks, throwing migrants overboard.

Three police officials who had boarded the boat in open seas helped control the situation, and rescuers reached the migrants immediately, saving them all. Pisanelli said they included women and children, and were from sub-Saharan Africa.

Tens of thousands of migrants have fled unrest in northern Africa since January, most arriving at Lampedusa, the nearest Italian port to Africa.

- AP

[caption id="attachment_133011" align="alignnone" width="511" caption="Migrants receives assistance as they arrive on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy, early this morning. (AP Photo/Francesco Malavolta)"][/caption]

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