Boat with 300 Eritrean and Somalian immigrants sinks near Italy
April. 07 2011
During a rescue operation of the Italian coast guard a boat with around 300 immigrants on board capsized in bad weather near the Italian island of Lampedusa this morning. 48 people were saved, at least twenty drowned and more than 150 are still missing.
The 13 meter long vessel left two days ago from Libya with around 300 Eritreans and Somalians on board hoping to reach Italy, but they were caught up by bad weather.
According to the Italian coast guard the wind in the area reached up to force 6, with blasts up to 29 knots.
Surprised by the storm the immigrants asked the Maltese authorities for help, who transferred the operation to the Italian coast guard. The Italians intervened with three ships, an airplane and a helicopter. They were assisted by the Maltese coast guard and a fishing boat.
While trying to take immigrants off their boat, which was sinking due to a hole in the bow, the vessel capsized and those on board fell into the water.
At least twenty people drowned and more than 150 are still missing. A rescue search has been put in place but the Italian coast guard fears for the worst.
The 48 people who were saved, among which is a pregnant woman, were brought to the immigrant centre on Lampedusa.