Tags: italian | navy | migrant | boat | rescue
Image: Italian Navy: Migrant Boat Rescue Saves 233 From Vessel in Danger

Italian Navy: Migrant Boat Rescue Saves 233 From Vessel in Danger

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014 03:38 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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The Italian Navy has rescued 233 migrants from a 33-foot boat in danger of sinking in the Mediterranean Sea.

None of the passengers, who hail from several African countries, had a life vest, CNN said. The boat was first seen on Jan. 1 near the island of Lampedusa and when a Navy ship arrived, it was determined all the people should be transferred aboard because of the dangerous situation.

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"Considering the rough seas, the overcrowded boat, and the precarious conditions, a situation of emergency was declared," a statement released by the Italian navy said, as reported by Deutsche Welle.

The people were mostly men, with only seven women, CNN said. All were in pretty good shape, although they were exposed to the cold for some time, DW said.

Also rescued recently by the Greek coast guard were 85 migrants seeking refuge from their African or Middle Eastern homes, CNN said. Their boat got in trouble when the weather turned stormy.

Lampedusa is the closest Italian island to Africa and therefore frequently sees boats of refugees trying to get to Europe. Sometimes the escapes end tragicially, as in October when 400-plus migrants died in two separate instances, one of which involved a ship sinking.

The Italian government organized “Mare Nostrum,” an operation of the Navy to try to stop such tragedies from occurring.

Frontex, an organization that tracks illegal entry into the European Union, shows migratory routes that people typically use to enter the EU. Several of those routes come in through the Mediterranean near Italy. In 2012, the organization said, more than 10,000 people entered illegally through a Central Mediterranean Route, while more than 4,700 came in through Apulia and Calabria.

CNN reported that more than 31,000 migrants may have entered illegally into the EU by crossing into Italy or Malta.

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