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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 October 2006, 00:13 GMT 01:13 UK
Italy rescues 300 migrants at sea
Migrants are supervised by an Italian naval officer. Archive picture
Many immigrants die trying to reach Europe by sea every year
Coastguards in Italy have rescued 300 suspected illegal immigrants caught in stormy weather off the coast of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

Lampedusa, one of Italy's southernmost islands, is used as a landing point by thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter the EU from Africa.

The boat, which reportedly contained many children some of whom were in poor health, was towed to safety.

Meanwhile, Spain says it has cracked a ring trafficking migrants and drugs.

Police arrested 15 people including Spaniards, South Americans and Eastern Europeans after seizing 1,500 kilos of hashish in the Canaries.

The drug was allegedly transported in vessels which also brought illegal immigrants from Morocco to Spain.

Italy says that more than 10,000 people arrived on Lampedusa during the first six months of this year alone.

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