7 Apr 2011

Hopes fading for finding migrant boat survivors

10:04 pm on 7 April 2011

Italian rescue vessels have resumed their search for survivors from a boat carrying refugees from Libya which sank south of Sicily but hopes of finding anyone alive are fading.

The Interior Minister Roberto Maroni says 51 people, most from central Africa, have been picked up by rescue vessels which answered a distress signal sent via Maltese authorities, Reuters reports.

However, Mr Maroni told the Italian parliament that survivors say there were another 150 people on board when the boat capsized on Wednesday.

Survivors have been housed in a reception centre in Lampedusa, the southern Italian island at the centre of a recent North African migrant crisis but there was some uncertainty about the number of people on the boat when it sank.