Syrians among 230 boat people landed in Italy

Syrians among 230 boat people landed in Italy

ROME - Scores of Syrian asylum seekers landed in southern Italy on Saturday on two boats carring a total of around 230 people, officials said.

The first boat, a fishing vessel, carried 130 people including 21 women and 28 children under the age of six, the border guard said in a statement.

The asylum seekers said they were Somalis and Syrian and local officials said they believed the boat had left from a port in Greece five days ago.

"The boat was spotted by an Icelandic plane from Europe's Frontex border frce" and escorted to the Calabria region, the statement said.

A second boat with "around 100 people" on board, including Egyptians, Palestinians and Syrians, landed on the island of Sicily, the border guard said.

The group included around 50 minors.

Local prosecutors said they believed the second boat had been towed by a "mother ship" - a cargo vessel - to near Italian shores and then released.

There has been a sharp upturn in migrant and refugee arrivals in recent weeks due to the increased unrest in north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.

 

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