Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK

World: Europe

Boats collide off Italian coast

Italy is a popular destination for Albanian refugees

At least five people were killed when an Italian police boat collided with a dinghy smuggling Kosovan refugees.

The incident took place halfway between the Italian and Albanian coasts at 0300GMT on Thursday.

The dead included a mother and her two small children.

Several refugees are still missing, according to Italian sources, and the search is continuing.

Eight people were injured, with two taken to hospital at Otranto, Italy, for treatment for head wounds.

Thrown overboard

The inflatable, which had a powerful engine, left the Albanian seaport of Vlera on Wednesday night heading for the Italian coast.

The two boats collided when the dinghy tried to cut across the patrol boat's bows to evade capture in the dark.

Most of the 34 refugees, believed to be Kosovar Albanians, were thrown overboard.

According to the customs police, whose patrol boat it was, the accident was caused by "a dangerous manoeuvre of the dinghy's navigator, who was trying to avoid being seen by the police".

Illegal route

The motorboat had been on patrol but had not been pursuing the inflatable, said the police.

Police have arrested three Albanians accused of trying to smuggle refugees into Italy.

There is a lucrative traffic in people smuggling across the Straits of Otranto between Albania and Italy, run by organised criminals, says BBC Correspondent David Willey.

Italian navy and coastguard vessels regularly patrol the Albanian coast in agreement with the Tirana authorities to try to stop illegal immigration into Italy and the EU.

Refugees from Kosovo are automatically granted temporary asylum in Italy, while those of other nationalities are repatriated where possible.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

30 Mar 99 | Kosovo
Analysis: The impact on Albania

27 Mar 99 | Europe
Italy prepares for refugee onslaught

Internet Links

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

International Crisis Group

La Repubblica

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift