Seven migrants drown, over 1,000 flock to Italian shores

Lampedusa holding centre packed to point of collapse

Seven migrants drown, over 1,000 flock to Italian shores

Agrigento, June 17 - Seven migrants drowned Sunday as they attempted to cling to a tuna cage dragged by a Tunisian fishing boat south of Malta. The immigrants were among more than a thousand that have flocked to Italian coasts in the last two days, launched in boats from northern Africa across the Strait of Sicily. The flood of migrants has left the migrant holding centre on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa packed well beyond capacity. Built to accommodate a maximum of 300 people, the centre is now packed with 855 people, with no transfers currently planned. Italian Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini is set to meet a special representative from OECD for the fight against human-trafficking on Monday. Thousands of migrants flood toward Europe across the Strait of Sicily each year as warm weather brings calmer seas, and the islands of Lampedusa, Pantelleria and Malta provide stepping stones to the continent. Many come from Northern Africa looking for jobs, but also from further south and other parts of the globe. The latest landing occurred on dry land shortly before midnight on Sunday. Police stopped five Tunisians and two Bangladeshi citizens on Lampedusa's Cala Pisana beach. Another 121 immigrants were picked up Sunday night on a boat located 60 miles southeast of Lampedusa, containing eight women and at least 33 Sub-Saharan Africans. One boat intercepted over the weekend contained a baby born at sea during the voyage.

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