Hundreds of migrants arrive in Lampedusa by boat

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A boat carrying hundreds of migrants arrived at an Italian island port on Monday evening.

Officials said there were 686 migrants aboard the boat which was escorted into port on the island of Lampedusa by the coast guard.

Work to transfer the migrants off the boat and to a reception centre on the island continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Lampedusa has a housing complex for migrants who reach the island after rescue from unseaworthy boats.

Requests by many of the migrants for asylum are often denied by Italy unless they can document they are fleeing war and other conflict or persecution, not poverty.

Earlier this month the Italian Coast Guard rescued 125 migrants who were spotted huddling together on the rocky shore of a tiny uninhabited isle after one of two boats partially sunk near Lampedusa.

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