4 Jan 2014

More asylum seekers rescued by Italian Navy

1:54 pm on 4 January 2014

More asylum seekers trying to reach Europe were rescued by the Italian Navy on Thursday.

Navy helicopters spotted four boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to save them.

In a statement, the Navy said 823 men, women and children were aboard the four vessels, from Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

Earlier, the Navy rescued 233 asylum seekers from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan and took them to a port near Syracuse on the eastern coast of Sicily.

The ABC reports Italy is carrying out extra patrols since a shipwreck in October, in which 366 migrants from Eritrea drowned.

Arrivals by sea from northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, from the civil war in Syria and strife in the Horn of Africa.