Tunisian army battles to rescue 700 refugees from boat

Reuters News
Posted: May 31, 2011 5:30 PM

TUNIS (Reuters) - The Tunisian army and navy are trying to rescue 700 people trapped in a fishing boat that broke down 20 km (12.4 miles) from the Tunisian island of Kerkennah, the Tunisian state news service TAP reported Tuesday.

The boat was bound for Italy, it said, and was carrying refugees, among them women and children, fleeing violence in Libya.

Thousands of people fleeing upheavals in North Africa have been heading to Italy on rickety boats in recent months, creating an immigration crisis in Lampedusa, an island situated half way between Tunisia and Sicily.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Jan Harvey, Editing by Lin Noueihed)