Hopes fade for Italy boat victims

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A migrant is carried by policemen to help him disembarking from a boat that capsized off Lampedusa, April 6, 2011
Image caption,
Italian officials have said that many people on the boat were from Eritrea and Somalia.

Hopes of finding survivors are fading after a boat carrying scores of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, Italian officials say.

The search continues for more than a hundred missing migrants who were on board the boat which sank off the south Italian Island of Lampedusa.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said more than 50 people had so far been picked up by rescue vessels.

Officials say the boat departed from western Libya on Monday.

Twenty deaths have been confirmed.

"Our hope is of finding a survivor, maybe someone who held on to a piece of wreckage," said Pietro Carosia, head of the coast guard in Lampedusa.

Television images on Wednesday showed shaken-looking survivors wrapped in thermal blankets being helped off rescue boats in Lampedusa.

Italian officials have reported that the boat had been carrying about 200 people but the International Organization of Migration (IOM) put the figure at 300.

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