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More than 800 migrants rescued from Mediterranean

By Livia Borghese, CNN
updated 8:15 AM EST, Fri January 3, 2014
(File) An Italian coast guard officer checks a the Mediterranean.
(File) An Italian coast guard officer checks a the Mediterranean.
  • More than 800 migrants have been rescued south of Lampedusa
  • The migrants were in four boats trying to reach the Italian island
  • 200 others were rescued the day before

(CNN) -- Italian authorities on Thursday rescued more than 800 migrants from four boats trying to reach the island of Lampedusa, the Italian navy said.

As the closest Italian island to Africa, Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea, is a frequent destination for refugees seeking to enter European Union countries, and shipwrecks off its shores are common.

Navy and air force helicopters spotted the four boats, which "appeared in precarious floating conditions and overcrowded," the navy said in a statement.

The migrants were being transferred to a Navy ship and will be brought to the port of Augusta in Sicily. They were from Africa and countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq.

A day earlier, more than 200 migrants were rescued from the sea and also taken to the port of Augusta.

More than 300 African migrants died in October after their ship sank off the island's shores. Days later, another 34 people died when their boat capsized.

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