Italy gets stream of migrant boats, one with baby born at sea

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 15, 2013 9:11 AM

ROME (Reuters) - Italy has intercepted more than 400 hundred migrants seeking to enter the European Union by boat in the past 12 hours, including one carrying a baby girl born at sea, and more vessels have been sighted, the coast guard said on Saturday.

The newborn arrived in a wooden boat just after midnight in the small port of Roccella Ionica in the region of Calabria, which forms the toe of the Italian boot, with 158 other migrants, a coast guard statement said.

The baby girl was named "new life" in her native language, the coast guard said without giving her nationality. Seven other children and 14 women were on the boat that had been at sea for seven days. Four were treated for dehydration.

The exact departure point of the Syrian, Afghan and Kurdish immigrants was not known, the coast guard said. Almost 300 other immigrants - including four pregnant women - in three boats were intercepted at sea and taken to the island of Lampedusa.

Two other boats were sighted but have yet to be recovered.

Thousands of immigrants seek the southern shores of Italy every summer, when the waters in the Strait of Sicily become calm enough for small boats to make the crossing, usually from Libya or Tunisia.

They come seeking work in the EU, and many do not remain in Italy. The ones who do, or who are taken into Italian custody, can be sent home. The Interior Ministry said on Saturday it had sent home 52 illegal North African migrants over the past week.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Mark Heinrich)