Italy rescues 75 boat migrants from Africa

The Italian coast guard rescued 75 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from a drifting dinghy on Saturday after receiving an emergency call for help by satellite phone, a spokesman told AFP.

"There are 75 immigrants, 24 of whom are women. They're all exhausted but no one needs immediate medical attention," said spokesman Filippo Marini.

Four of the women are pregnant, according to Italian media reports.

It was not yet clear where the 10-metre long dinghy had set sail from or how long it had been at sea.

"The immigrants were taken off the dinghy onto two coast guard boats which had gone out immediately to save them. They are being brought back to Lampedusa, where they are expected to land early this evening," Marini said.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian fishing boat with 127 undocumented immigrants on board was intercepted by the Italian coast guard.

Italy has seen a spike in arrivals over the past year following the Arab Spring revolts in North Africa, and migrants frequently try to enter Europe by crossing the Mediterranean to the southern Italian shores.

The high season for crossings is May to September when the sea is calmer.

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