8 May 2011

Boat with 500 migrants grounds near Italy

10:14 pm on 8 May 2011

A boat carrying about 500 refugees from Libya ran aground as it neared an Italian port on Sunday, forcing many of those on board to jump into the sea.

All were successfully rescued.

The boat hit some rocks on the approach to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa between Sicily and Tunisia.

The incident sparked panic among those on board - most of them migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who had been in transit in Libya.

Italian coast guards immediately intervened, plucking dozens from the water and rescuing those still on board.

Television images showed chaotic scenes as refugees clung on to ropes cast between the shoreline and the fishing boat and officers dived in to help.