Siracusa

163 migrants from Egypt, Syria land in Siracusa

Over 60 are minors

163 migrants from Egypt, Syria land in Siracusa

Siracusa, August 13 - Sicily, at the height of the tourist season, continued to deal with a spate of arrivals of migrants from North Africa on Tuesday when 163 immigrants and refugees, reportedly Syrians and Egyptians, landed in Portopalo di Capo Passero near Siracusa. The migrants - 53 men, 45 women and 66 minors - were on board a 27-meter vessel, which was intercepted by a tax police cutter some 25 miles off the coast. They were taken to a temporary migrant-reception centre in the former town fish market where they were provided assistance and authorities are now identifying them. "We don't have adequate structures to welcome these migrants and the spate of new landings on our coasts has made the situation critical," said the town's mayor Michele Taccone. Some 150 migrants, many of them minors, are staying at the temporary migrant holding center, the mayor said. On Saturday, six migrants identified as Egyptians aged 17 to 27, died in a shipwreck off the coast of Catania, Sicily near a public beach. The migrants were thrown into the sea after their boat ran aground some 15 metres from shore and drowned as they reportedly couldn't swim. EU border agency Frontex has raised the alarm bell, noting that 1,300 migrants landed in southern Italy in one week and that in the first seven months of 2013 some 12,000 had. Most making the perilous crossing from North Africa are from sub-Saharan African countries like Somalia and Eritrea though an increasing number of Syrians and Egyptians have been reported among the migrants arriving in Italy over the past few days. (photo: swimmers and sunbathers at the beach where six migrants drowned over the weekend)

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