Tripoli, 24 October:
Italian coastguard vessels from Lampedusa rescued 261 . . .[restrict]illegal migrants early on Tuesday night who were in two overloaded rubber dinghies that had got into difficulties in Libyan waters.
It is reported that the migrants in one of the boats made SOS calls using a satellite phone to the Libyan coastguard but there was no reply. They then contacted an Eritrean in Italy who alerted the Italian authorities.
According to the Armed Forces of Malta, which helped coordinate the rescues, Italian coastguard patrols rescued 111 migrants from one boat taking in water just 56 kilometres off the Libyan coast. The other boat, with 150 aboard, was rescued later. It was nearly 100 kilometres off the Libyan coast. Conditions were said to be rough at the time.
The migrants included 37 women, two of them pregnant.
An oil industry vessel was also reported to have been involved in the rescue. The migrants were taken to Lampedusa for interrogation.
It is not yet been disclosed if the migrants boarded the vessels in Libya.