Seven migrants dead after migrant boat capsizes off Italy

Ten missing as 250 people land on Lampedusa overnight on other vessels

At least seven migrants have drowned after a boat carrying them capsized five miles off the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea.

One of those who died was pregnant, while about 10 people are missing, Italian officials said.

The group was believed to have started its journey in Tunisia before the eight-metre boat overturned early on Wednesday.

Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, lies between Malta and northern Africa and is a major entry point to Europe for migrants coming from Africa.

Lampedusa Mayor Toto Martello criticised European officials for failing to stop people making the dangerous journey.

"This latest tragedy in the Mediterranean is heartbreaking,” he said.

“I wonder what else has to happen to make Italy and Europe understand that we cannot go on like this.”

Coast guard units managed to rescue 46 migrants and bring them back to Lampedusa, officials said.

More than 250 migrants landed on the island overnight on four other ships, local media reported.

Arrivals in Italy had been falling in recent years but numbers picked up again this year.

Almost 19,800 people have arrived since the beginning of the year – many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, up from 6,700 in the same period last year – figures from Italy’s Interior Ministry show.

Updated: June 30th 2021, 4:07 PM