Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2013

Asylum seekers drown off Lampedusa

Asylum seekers drown off Lampedusa

A boat carrying an estimated 500 people caught fire and capsized near the southern Italian island of Lampedusa early Thursday morning.

A fishing boat is reported to have raised the alarm after rescuing around 150 people.

News agencies have put the death toll at more than 90, however, this figure is expected to rise as there were reports of more than a hundred people still in the water.

Lampedusa coast guard official Floriana Segreto said he could confirm that bodies had been recovered from the sea and more were feared dead.

The mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini, confirmed the migrants rescued so far were from sub-Saharan Africa.

Coast guard and police vessels were trawling the waters, and helicopters were also sent to the scene.

It’s the second such incident involving migrants near the Italian coast this week.

On Monday, up to 13 asylum seekers drowned as they tried to swim ashore after their boat ran aground off the coast of eastern Sicily.

lw/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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