Italian coastguard intercepts 247 would-be immigrants
An Italian coastguard patrol vessel on Saturday morning intercepted a boat carrying 247 would-be immigrants in the southern Mediterranean Sea, news reports said.
The group - believed to be mostly Africans and including 15 women - was escorted to the tiny island of Lampedusa, where Italian authorities are struggling to cope with a recent increase in immigrant arrivals.
Saturday's landing, the seventh since Christmas Day, brought to more than 1,000 the number of people housed in an immigrant reception centre on the island. The facility only has beds for 700.
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from northern Africa make the dangerous sea crossing to southern Europe every year.
Lampedusa lies 113 kilometres off the Tunisian coast, reported dpa.