Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 08:53 UK

Row strands saved migrants at sea

African would be immigrant are escorted by italian policemen as they board a boat to be transfered from Lampedusa Island to Sicily on March 16, 2009
Each year thousands of migrants try to enter the EU through Lampedusa

A group of 140 migrants is spending a fourth day stranded on board a Turkish cargo ship as a row rages over which country will accept them.

The migrants were rescued by the MV Pinar after their boats got in trouble in rough seas some 25 miles off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy says the ship is in a Maltese search and rescue area.

But Malta says the migrants should be taken to the nearest port of call, which it says is Lampedusa.

Each year, tens of thousands of migrants pay smugglers to try to reach Italian shores. Often their boats capsize or get stranded, and nearby fishing boats or military ships rescue them.

Two migrants who were ill were flown by Italian military helicopter from the Pinar for treatment on Lampedusa.

Commander Cosimo Nicastro, of the Italian coast guard, said the remaining migrants were "a little worn" but that "no one is in need of evacuation", the Associated Press reported.

However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has urged the two countries to set aside the legal aspects of the situation and let in the migrants so they can get medical aid.

The situation aboard the Pinar was "becoming problematic and the conditions at sea are going to get worse", UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini told the AFP news agency.

Migration routes to Europe
The Pinar is in an area that is on one of the main migration routes from North Africa to Italy

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