(ANSA) - Rome, April 13 - Two women are dead and another
person is missing after a boat got into trouble near the
Sicilian island of Pantelleria Wednesday, a week after at least
150 people were lost at sea when another migrant vessel sank in
the Channel of Sicily.
The boat, which was carrying 192 refugees and left
conflict-hit Libya five days ago, appears to have run aground in
shallow waters after getting lost while an Italian coast guard
vessel was trying to escort it to port.
The passengers were forced to abandon the boat and swim
ashore in choppy conditions, according to initial
reconstructions, and the two women probably drowned as they were
trying to do so.
Their bodies were found in water that was only around
The authorities, who have detained the boat's
pilot, are searching for the missing person.
The death toll would have been higher if coast guards,
police, firefighters and local people had not thrown themselves
into the sea and saved dozens of migrants, most of whom are
throught to be from sub-Saharan Africa.
Pantelleria Mayor Alberto Di Marzo said six children were
aboard and a pregnant woman, none of whom are in a
life-threatening condition, although the woman is in hospital.
Last week's sinking in rough seas near the southern island
of Lampedusa, a landing point for many of the 28,000 migrants to
have arrived in Italy this year following unrest in North
Africa, took the number of people to have gone missing in the
Channel of Sicily in 2011 to around 800.
Children were among the victims of the wreck that claimed
the lives of mostly Eritreans and Somalis last week.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said Tuesday he
was hopeful that a recent agreement with the new Tunisian
government to boost controls and repatriate new arrivals in
exchange for aid and assistance would stem the flow of migrants
from that country, the origin of most of the non-EU citizens to
land in Italy this year.
But he expressed concerns that large numbers of Africans
will keep coming via Libya as conflict between Muammar Gaddafi
loyalists and rebels to his 40-year rule continues.