A boatload of migrants involved in the rescue operation.
REUTERS/Marina Militare/Handout via Reuters
The Italian navy has rescued more than 1100 migrants from
nine large rafts in the waters south of Sicily, the latest
arrivals from North Africa.
Patrol helicopters identified the overcrowded rafts on
Wednesday and four navy vessels participated in the rescue
which ended early on Thursday (local time), a statement said.
The navy gave no details about the nationalities of the
Italy is a major gateway into Europe for migrants, and sea
arrivals more than tripled in 2013 from the previous year,
fuelled by Syria's civil war and strife in the Horn of
In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the
shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is located
about halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. More than 200,
mostly Syrians, died in another shipwreck a week later.
Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the
Mediterranean island of Malta have borne the brunt of migrant
flows and have urged the EU to make a more robust and