MILAN (AP) — The bodies of eight migrants have been recovered by Italy's coast guard during an operation overnight that also rescued 42 survivors in the central Mediterranean off the island of Lampedusa, Italian news agency ANSA reported Friday.
The coast guard in Rome and in Lampedusa declined to immediately confirm details of the rescue, including the deaths.
All on board were soaking wet, cold and dehydrated, according to ANSA. The deceased were believed to have perished from the cold. Survivors said they had departed the Tunisian port of Sfax before dawn on Saturday, ANSA reported.
The rescue happened about 42 miles (67 kilometers) south of Lampedusa, in the Maltese search and rescue area, according to ANSA.
Charity boats operating in the deadly central Mediterranean have complained that a new Italian policy forcing them to port after each rescue will endanger the lives of migrants departing from North Africa.
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The Associated Press