Italian navy rescues 233 migrants south of Sicily

ROME Thu Jan 2, 2014 4:38am EST

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ROME (Reuters) - The Italian navy has rescued 233 mostly African migrants from a 10 meter (yard) boat in Mediterranean waters south of Sicily as the immigration crisis that killed hundreds in shipwrecks in 2013 showed no signs of letting up in the new year.

The navy picked them up in choppy seas late on Wednesday and was ferrying them on Thursday to a port near Syracuse on Sicily's eastern coast, a statement said.

On board were men and women from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia and Mali as well as from Pakistan, the navy said.

Sea arrivals to Italy from Northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, fuelled by refugees from Syria's civil war and political strife in the Horn of Africa.

In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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