Last updated: 16 September, 2013

Two boats with 270 asylum seekers land in Italy

Two boats carrying around 270 mainly Syrian asylum seekers landed on Italian shores on Monday, the latest of thousands of refugees fleeing the war-torn country to arrive in Italy, officials said.

The first boat carrying 150 people — all of them believed to be Syrian — arrived on the tiny island of Vendicari, just off Sicily, early on Monday.

The second vessel had 120 people on board, including 28 women and 50 minors. They came from Egypt, the Palestinian Territories and Syria.

A third boat with 270 migrants issued a distress call via satellite phone, saying the vessel was adrift and a pregnant woman on board was in labour.

More than 22,000 migrants have landed on the coast of southern Italy so far this year — nearly three times the total number for all of 2012 — including many Eritreans, Somalis and Syrians.