Italy rescues more than 300 migrants from boat in distress

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ROME, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Italian coastguard rescued 305 migrants who were trying to reach Europe aboard an overloaded boat that ran into difficulty off the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a statement said on Friday.

Two coastguard units reached the boat about 20 miles from the Italian coast. Those rescued included 17 women and 6 minors.

The operation was particularly complex due to the small size of the vessel and worries it could capsize due to the excessive number of people on board, the coastguard statement said.

Italy has seen an increase in migrant boats in recent months and hundreds of people rescued in the Mediterranean are currently aboard three charity boats waiting for a safe port.

Geo Barents, operated by charity Doctors without Borders (MSF), said on Twitter it was carrying over 430 people that it took on board in several separate rescues.

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Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Toby Chopra

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