Nearly 1,000 migrants in small boat reach Sicily

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2011 12:37 PM
Nearly 1,000 migrants in small boat reach Sicily

A boat crammed with nearly 1,000 illegal migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, has reached Sicily after sailing from Libya.

Border police Cmdr. Francesco Fallica called the landing Tuesday near Ragusa "biblical." The 963 migrants were crowded into a 20-meter (66-foot) long, barely seaworthy boat. He told Sky TG24 TV that some were so stressed by the voyage they fainted after police helped them ashore. A police motorboat came to their aid as they approached Sicily.

Reports said the boat left Libya four days earlier. Most aboard were Africans, although some came from Bangladesh.

Tens of thousands of illegal migrants have sailed to Italy in smugglers' boats this year, fleeing north African revolts and unrest. Those without jobs and who are ineligible for asylum are deported.