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210 immigrants rescued off Sicily

Aug. 26, 2013 at 1:27 PM

PALERMO, Italy, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The Italian Coast Guard evacuated more than 200 immigrants from boats stranded in the Channel of Sicily, officials said.

A Coast Guard vessel heading to an immigrant detention center on Italy's Lampedusa island received an emergency call from a boat that was taking on water at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

That boat was carrying 99 immigrants believed to be of Eritrean origin.

During the rescue operation, the Coast Guard received a call from another boat carrying 110 immigrants that had motor failure. A merchant ship picked up those on the second boat and brought them to Syracuse.

There was an influx of North African immigrants attempting to get to southern Europe by boat over the weekend. On Saturday, 22 Tunisian immigrants were discovered on the island of Conigli near Lampedusa and 98 Syrian refugees were intercepted by a Frontex patrol vessel off the coast of the Sicilian town of Porto Palo.

Frontex is the European agency for cooperation and management of European Union borders.

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