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Hundreds of Migrants Rescued Off Italy

Italian Coast Guard officers, holiday-goers help migrants off boat near Siracusa, Aug. 15, 2013 file photo.
The Italian coast guard has rescued more than 700 people in the last two days from boats carrying migrants and refugees.
Italian officials say four vessels got into difficulty in waters near Sicily. People from Syria, Egypt, Eritrea, Nigeria and Ghana were rescued.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported Saturday that more than 207 people were taken to the island of Lampedusa after their rescue by the coast guard and navy. Among them were two women in the late stages of pregnancy.
Another boat with 212 people aboard was being towed to Lampedusa. Two other broken-down boats carrying 293 people were taken to Augusta on Sicily's eastern coast.
Violence in Syria and Egypt this year has spurred an increased number of refugees attempting to reach Italy.
Thousands of people have tried to make the hazardous crossing from North Africa to Italy or Malta in open boats in recent years. Many have perished during the voyage.
Italy has urged other European Union countries to do more to share the burden of housing the migrants.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.