Italy's coastguard has rescued 70 boat migrants who had spent hours clinging to the hull of a capsized vessel while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. Rescuers have recovered at least 10 bodies.
The Italian news agency ANSA said a Maltese aircraft had first sighted the capsized boat about 65 Kilometers (40 miles) off Libya's coast on Saturday afternoon.
The survivors - 62 men and eight women, one of whom was pregnant - were transferred to an Italian Navy ship for medical care. Many of them were suffering from hypothermia.
The survivors were later taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Their nationalities were not initially clear.
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Each year, thousands of people, mostly from Africa, attempt to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa to Europe in overcrowded and frequently unseaworthy vessels.
In September, dozens of people – believed to have been from Tunisia – went missing when the fishing boat carrying them sank near Lampedusa.
Tunisia calls for coordination
At a subsequent meeting of European and north African leaders on Malta last month, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called for the creation of a regional task force.
Marzouki said coordinated responses must be established to deal with what he called a "humanitarian disaster."
Solutions to the problem, he said, lay in finding solutions to instability, persistent poverty and high youth unemployment in Africa.
Italy's government recently said that between the start of the year and September 8,000 clandestine migrants landed on Italy's coastline.
Italian Interior Minister Maria Cancellieri said cooperation, especially with Tunisia and Libya, had led to a reduction in the numbers reaching Italy since the Arab Spring popular uprisings of 2011.
ipj/slk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)