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Italy saves 200 more illegal immigrants

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The Italian Coast Guard rescued 200 illegal immigrants from a boat found adrift off the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, according to an official in Palermo.

The boat, about 15 meters, or 50 feet, long, had been spotted drifting about 75 kilometers, or 45 miles, from the coast, the official said. The rescue was complicated by the bad weather.

Rescue teams also continued their search around Lampedusa for the bodies of 60 would-be immigrants still missing and feared drowned after their two boats sank.

The authorities said that four frigates were searching an area near where an inflatable boat sank with the presumed loss of 20 lives. Ten bodies were recovered August 21 after 10 survivors and one body were picked up the day before.

Survivors said that 70 people had died in two sinkings.

In addition, 47 migrants arrived on Lampedusa and neighboring Pantelleria, following 54 people who made landfall in two craft on Lampedusa on August 19 - 20.

Lampedusa, which lies about 200 kilometers south of Sicily on the route from Libya to Italy, is a favored destination for African migrants seeking to enter Europe.

Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi criticized Libya for not doing more to prevent migrants from casting off from its shores.

"No negotiations are possible when there are crowds of desperate people thrown into nothing more than floating carts," Bianchi said during a visit to Lampedusa, according to an account from the ANSA press agency. "We will try to convince the Libyan government that immigration problems, especially with this dramatic angle, cannot be part of negotiations under which they give something only in exchange for something back."

In recent years, Italy has urged Libya to clamp down on illegal immigrants traveling through its territory, but people have washed up on Italy's shores in ever greater numbers this summer, many of them dying during their voyages.

According to the Interior Ministry, 178 vessels carrying 10,414 people arrived in Lampedusa from Jan. 1 to July 31 this year, higher than the 6,901 arrivals in the same period in 2005.

Relations between Italy and Libya have been difficult for years, particularly regarding Libya's request for financial compensation for Italy's occupation of it from 1911 to 1943.

Spain to help Senegal

Spain said that it would enhance Senegal's ability to stem the flow of boats carrying illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands.

The Spanish offered more patrol boats, helicopters, trucks and other equipment.

More than 18,000 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off Africa's northwest coast, in overcrowded fishing boats so far this year. Spanish officials flew to Dakar, Senegal's capital, for urgent talks on how to prevent departures and repatriate those who arrive.

European patrols in Senegalese waters have been delayed by discussions over how to structure the operation, according to Senegalese officials.

The Spanish delegation, headed by Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, said Spain had already provided 20 pickup trucks, along with equipment such as walkie-talkies and infrared goggles. He promised to send a helicopter and two patrol boats next week.

"Senegal and Spain have the same vision against illegal immigration, to have zero tolerance," Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom of Senegal said of the agreement.


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