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600 Immigrants Rescued Near Italy

July 4, 2001

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CROTONE, Italy (AP) _ The Italian navy on Wednesday pulled 642 would-be illegal immigrants from a freighter adrift off Italy’s southern coast, a port official said.

Eight of the passengers who were suffering from dehydration were taken by a speedboat to the southern port of Crotone, Capt. Giuseppe Bellantone said. A pregnant woman was rushed to a local hospital, where she lost her baby, state television reported.

An Italian navy frigate carrying the rest of those rescued _ most of them believed to be Iraqi and Turkish Kurds _ reached Crotone Wednesday evening.

Coast guard helicopters early Wednesday morning spotted the ship, which had apparently run out of fuel, several miles off Italy’s Calabrian coast.

Bellantone said officials were still trying to determine the nationality of the Ammoil, a freighter, and from where the vessel had sailed.

Immigrant smuggling is a serious problem along Italy’s long, poorly patrolled coastline. Most are headed to northern Europe, where many, including Kurds, have relatives with homes or jobs.

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