ROME (AP) — Police said Thursday that they rescued about 500 migrants from Libya after a small fire broke out on their boat miles (kilometers) off the Italian coast.
Police patrol boats spotted the boat and were escorting it toward the small island of Lampedusa when the fire began, Maj. Fabrizio Pisanelli said. The migrants were moved onto the Italian patrol boats and taken to the island.
The group of sub-Saharan Africans included 36 women and nine children.
Another boat carrying 208 migrants arrived in Lampedusa the night between Wednesday and Thursday, said Pisanelli.
Hundreds of would-be migrants have died since the exodus from Libya began earlier this year, including 250 who drowned off the Italian coast last month.
Witnesses reported another ship carrying 600 broke apart and sank near Libyan capital, Tripoli, on May 6, with the death toll unknown.