(ANSA) - Lampedusa, October 4 - Italian diplomats said Thursday they were working to free an Italian fishing boat seized by Egyptian authorities. The Artemide was seized Wednesday evening, according to regional politician Toni Scilla, who said president of fishing association Federpesca, Luigi Giannini, had contacted Italy's deputy ambassador to Egypt, Andrea Orizio, "who assured a timely intervention," Scilla said. The seven crew members of the Artemis are reportedly in good condition in the port of Alexandria. The fishing boat, owned by shipping company Bono, was apparently stopped about 20 miles off the coast of Egypt. Piero Bono, one of the owners, says the ship's captain told him that an Egyptian military patrol boat forced his ship to dock in Alexandria. A similar incident occurred in late July, when Egyptian authorities seized five fishing vessels - the same day that Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi concluded an official visit to the country. Italian diplomats were able to ensure those vessels were released with 24 hours. However, another Italian fishing boat was seized in mid-September in Tunisia, where it is still held. One of its sailors was said Thursday to have suffered a heart attack and been hospitalized.
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di Giovanni Pastore