LAMPEDUSA, Sicily (AP) — A rusty, overloaded fishing boat carrying 686 people docked on the island of Lampedusa in the single biggest arrival of migrants in Italy in years, amid new diplomatic efforts by Mediterranean governments to seek more European help in handling migrant flows.
Italian coast guard ships escorted the 15-meter (45-foot) boat into port late Monday in Lampedusa, Sicily, an island closer to Africa than the Italian mainland that is one of the main destinations for Libyan-based migrant smugglers.
It is rare for such a large smugglers' boat carrying so many people to arrive in an Italian port. More often, smaller groups of migrants are rescued at sea over several days by aid groups after their flimsy crafts take on water. The rescue vessels then bring the migrants into shore together.