May 15, 2011 / 12:27 PM / 9 years ago

Tunisia intercepts boat carrying 222 fleeing Libya

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian maritime authorities rescued 222 migrants fleeing Libya by sea on Saturday after their boat started leaking, state news agency TAP reported.

The boat had suffered serious damage and was aiming to reach Italy, TAP reported on its French website on Sunday.

The boat was intercepted at Djerba, on Tunisia’s southeast coast close to neighbouring Libya, after authorities received a distress call.

All the migrants were taken to a Tunisian camp at Choucha in the north of the country, TAP said, without giving further details.

Thousands of Libyans have been fleeing the three-month conflict in their country by land and sea.

Many have managed to reach neighbouring countries and Europe, where their arrival has stirred a political debate about borders.

Hundreds are thought to have died along the way.

The United Nations says those fleeing Libya by sea have a one in 10 chance of dying in a Mediterranean crossing in appalling conditions on hugely overcrowded, unseaworthy boats.

It said last week around 12,000 migrants had arrived at reception centres in Malta and Italy, while an estimated 1,200 are missing, presumed dead.

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