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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Bodies spotted near Italian coast
Map of Lampedusa
The bodies of 14 suspected illegal immigrants have been discovered floating off Italy's Lampedusa island, the country's coastguard has said.

Six of the bodies were recovered late on Tuesday and the coastguard has said it will resume searches on Wednesday.

Patrol boats were sent to the area, about 50 miles (80km) south-west of the southern island.

A helicopter search crew spotted the bodies, some still wearing life vests, floating in Maltese territorial waters.

Lampedusa, located between Sicily and north Africa, is used as a landing point by thousands of illegal migrants trying to enter the EU from Africa.

Earlier on Tuesday, 45 male migrants made it to Lampedusa's coast, where their boat was towed into port.

Since the start of the year Italian coastguards say they have found about 7,000 immigrants attempting illegal entry into Italy from the sea.

Just over 1,600 people were also found after they managed to land in Italy.

However the figures represent a significant reduction from the same period last year when around 16,000 people were found in Italian waters between January and September.

According to the United Nations, 77 people died and 133 went missing in June alone after trying to cross the Strait of Sicily.


SEE ALSO
Bodies found near Maltese coast
01 Jun 07 |  Europe



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