di Marcello Mento
Lampedusa, July 9 - The Italian Coast Guard rescued 303 migrants in three different boats near the island of Lampedusa overnight Monday. A fourth boat was towed by Libyan authorities with approximately 100 passengers to the Libyan coast. Another 133 immigrants who landed overnight were found on the Cala Francese shore in Lampedusa. Rescuers from the Cigala Fulgosi military marines assisted 31 migrants including four women, two of whom are pregnant, from a boat stranded off the island's shore. Pope Francis made his first official trip as pontiff since his election in March to Lampedusa on Monday in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of migrants that set sail from North African shores in desperate attempts to reach Italy. Migrants often land in Lampedusa in their attempts to enter Italy because of the island's location between Sicily and North Africa. Thousands of migrants land yearly after making dangerous crossings in often rickety and overcrowded boats.