9 Aug 2009

Fatal intercept by coastguard

12:53 pm on 9 August 2009

One person has died and at least 11 others are missing after an Algerian coast guard vessel collided with boats carrying would-be migrants.

The El Watan newspaper reported the collision happened off the eastern port city of Annaba after three migrant boats rejected calls for them to stop. Two sank in the incident which began on Saturday night.

Those on board chanted "we'll pass or we'll die" when they were surrounded.

Algerian radio said more than 70 people have tried to escape by boat in the past two days.

It said more than 400 people had been intercepted by the coast guard this year.

The BBC reports Annaba is a focal point in Algeria for young, unemployed men who attempt to reach Europe on ill-equipped boats.