About 300 illegal migrants make it to Italian coast

Rome, Oct 15 (EFE).- About 300 undocumented immigrants traveling on board four boats were rescued by Italian patrol craft as they were sailing in the Strait of Sicily over the past 24 hours.

Among the rescued migrants, 80 of them were spotted in Libyan waters by Italian port authority vessels and transferred to the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.

Between the island of Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, Italy's navy and coast guard also rescued a boatload of 250 Eritreans and brought them ashore.

Italian coastal authorities detected a third boat - also with about 80 people on board - and another smaller vessel carrying six Tunisians 35 miles southwest of Marsala, Sicily.

With the continuous flow of immigrants trying to reach the Italian coast, and in the wake of recent tragedies involving shipwrecks in the Mediterranean that killed at least 364 migrants near Lampedusa and 38 near Malta, the Italian government on Tuesday began undertaking enhanced naval and air monitoring of the Strait of Sicily.

The operation will employ a larger number of military and other vessels as well as using drones to monitor the Mediterranean to save "human lives," Italian Defense Minister Mario Mauro said Monday.