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Italy Coast Guard rescues 211 migrants off Lampedusa island

Italy Coast Guard rescues 211 migrants off Lampedusa island
Debris washed up on the beach, three days after a boat of migrants sank off the coast, in Steccato di Cutro, Crotone Province, southern Italy, 01 March 2023. EPA-EFE/CARMELO IMBESI

ROME, March 3 (Reuters) - Italy's Coast Guard said on Friday it rescued 211 migrants off the island of Lampedusa, saving them from a ship struggling in rough seas.

The migrants were intercepted some 28 km (17 miles) south of Lampedusa while on a fishing boat that “was starting to take in water”, the coast guard said in a statement.

Operations took place “in adverse weather and sea conditions”, the statement said, adding that one of the migrants was handed over to the police on suspicion of being a human trafficker.

The rescue came in the wake of Sunday‘s shipwreck off Italy’s southern Calabria region, in which at least 68 migrants died and several are missing.

Italian prosecutors are looking into the incident, amid a controversy over whether the coast guard and police could have done more to prevent the tragedy.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Gianluca Semeraro and Chizu Nomiyama)

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