Rome: Italian authorities say more than 470 migrants have reached Italy in a 24-hour period after being rescued at sea.
The Coast Guard said today the migrants include 22 from Nigeria and other west African nations who were taken to Lampedusa island.
Italian TV showed a wrecked motorized rubber dinghy that the Africans told authorities had capsized after setting off from Libya`s coast. They said the raft deflated, causing 31 aboard to drown.
Each year, thousands of migrants pay smugglers in hope of slipping ashore in Italy. Many attempt the Mediterranean crossing during periods of calm warm seas, as in recent days.
Those who die were mourned by Pope Francis during his recent trip to Lampedusa, which is closer to northern Africa than to the Italian mainland.