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Video | AFM coordinates rescue of 600 migrants off Lampedusa
The Armed Forces of Malta coordinated the efforts for the dramatic rescue of some 600 migrants off the island of Lampedusa yesterday after their vessel ran into problems in rough seas.
1 May 2011, 12:00am
Air and sea assets were deployed from Valletta to assist the rescue operation that involved Italian naval rescue ships that took in the African migrants late in the evening.
An SOS from on board the boat was launched by the migrants who were at 47 miles off Lampedusa and more than 100 miles from Malta.
Initially the Italians insisted that the Maltese authorities effect the rescue since the boat was in an area that falls under Maltese Search and Rescue responsibilities.
Nearly 2,000 new migrants have arrived on the small southern island of Lampedusa, mainly from Libya, in the last 24 hours alone.
This has prompted concern of a repeat of a recent crisis on Lampedusa, whose population of around 5,000 was at times outnumbered by migrants sleeping in improvised tent encampments on hillsides and beaches.