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Migrant boat sinks off Libyan coast, claims lives

Several migrants have died after their boat capsized in the southern Mediterranean. Italy's Coast Guard says nearly 1,000 people have been rescued in the past 24 hours trying to make the crossing from Africa to Europe.

The rubber boat was carrying roughly 130 people when it ran into trouble about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Libya, the Italian Coast Guard said in a statement on Wednesday.

A Coast Guard vessel in the area - which was already carrying 318 people from an earlier rescue - managed to save most of the migrants on board. Ten bodies were recovered, however, and searches for survivors are still underway.

According to authorities, 941 migrants, including 30 children and 50 women, have been rescued in seven separate missions in the Mediterranean Sea over the past 24 hours. The passengers, who are believed to be from Syria, Tunisia, Libya, the Palestinian territories and sub-Saharan Africa, are all being taken to southern Italy.

Last month, 300 people died over a one-week period while

attempting to make the sea crossing

from Africa to Italy. Many migrants picked up at sea have paid smugglers thousands of dollars

to make the dangerous journey

because they're desperate to escape poverty or conflict in their home countries.

Italy has long

called for more help from the European Union

to deal with migrants who travel to Italy in a bid to find a better life in Europe.

Last year the country ended its large scale search and rescue mission, known as Mare Nostrum, due to exorbitant running costs. The operation was replaced by the EU-led operation, Triton, which has fewer ships and covers a much smaller area off the Italian coastline.

In January and February, 7,882 migrants arrived on the Italian coast, an increase of more than 43 percent compared to the same period last year, according to figures from Italy's Interior Ministry.

Last year alone, more than 3,500 people lost their lives attempting to make the sea crossing from North Africa to Italy.

nm/ (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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