Eleven rescued after migrant boat sinks off Sicily

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 11, 2012 7:46 AM

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police rescued 11 men clinging to the wreckage of a rubber motor boat after the vessel sank while they were attempting to sail from Tunisia to the island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily, coast guard and customs officials said on Tuesday.

A coast guard aircraft spotted the wreckage drifting about 20 miles north of Pantelleria late on Monday night and the 11 were picked up by a customs police vessel.

The men were taken to Pantelleria for medical checks after they spent two days in the water, the officials said.

The incident occurred after scores of people were rescued from a boat in trouble last week off the nearby island of Lampedusa, one of the main gateways into Italy for migrants seeking to reach Europe from North Africa.

At least one man died and dozens more people were reported missing after the rescue.

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Thousands of refugees and would-be migrants have died attempting the Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa to Italy as a result of shipwreck, harsh conditions or lack of food and water. Italy has become the main focus of this seaborne migration to southern Europe over the past few years.

(Reporting By Massimiliano Di Giorgio. Editing by Jane Merriman)