Oct. 26 - Italian coastguard intercepts a vessel carrying 137 migrants including women and children. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The Italian coastguard released video of a night-time operation to intercept some 137 migrants from a boat off the coast of Sicily on Saturday. According to a statement the operation took place at around 0145 in the morning local time. The video released by the coast guard showed officers approaching the migrant vessel in the dark, with many of the migrants seen seated on the deck of the boat. Women and children were among the migrants, the video showed. The migrants were then helped board the coastguard vessel where they were given snacks and drinks before being taken to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily. According to the coastguard the group included 19 women and 38 children. More than 32,000 migrants have made the journey to southern Italy by boat so far this year, according to the United Nations. Italy has increased patrols in the seas between Libya, Tunisia and Italy since more than 360 mainly Eritrean migrants drowned in early October when their boat capsized off Lampedusa. A second boat sank a week later, leaving an estimated 200 people missing. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has pressed European Union leaders to increase aid to Mediterranean countries including Italy, Greece and Malta which have handled the brunt of the crisis. Italian authorities said navy and coast guard vessels rescued more than 700 migrants in waters between Sicily and North Africa overnight on Thursday.