The Italian coast guard rescued around 750 migrants from two overloaded fishing boats in the Mediterranean. On Thursday morning, a boat with 295 people on board was intercepted in international waters off the coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria, the Coast Guard said.
The migrants were taken to patrol boats and taken to safety. In the afternoon, the coast guard rescued around 450 migrants from another boat that was in distress about 100 nautical miles east of the Sicilian city of Syracuse.
In Italy, the arrival of thousands of migrants, who are making their way from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy in mostly unseaworthy boats, has been discussed for several weeks. According to official figures, the country has already registered more than 20,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January - in the two previous years there were around 6,000 at this time.
Again and again there are devastating boat accidents in attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. At the end of February, a shipwreck occurred off the coast of Calabria, killing at least 89 people. Italy's right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the coast guard have since been subjected to massive criticism - the accusation is that not everything possible was done to save them. A few days ago, however, she replied to her critics in Parliament: "My conscience is absolutely clear!"