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Immigrants escape on Italian island after burning rescue center

(Xinhua)

09:26, August 18, 2011

ROME, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- About one hundred Tunisian immigrants fled on Wednesday from a refugee center in the southern island of Pantelleria, after they set beds and mattresses ablaze in protest of poor living conditions in the center.

The fire caused severe damage to the already packed rescue center, forcing some 80 other refugees to be transferred to other facilities.

The island authorities are still looking for those who have fled and were now roaming the barren countryside of the tiny island off the Sicilian coast, local media reported.

Italy's immigration drama climaxed this summer, with refugee boats landing or being intercepted along Italy's southern coasts almost on a daily basis.

Over the past few days, a total of over 2,600 immigrants have landed in the isle of Lampedusa, where the refugee center already hosts 1,800 people, government data showed.

Many immigrants reach Italy in desperate conditions, and there have already been several sea tragedies during which dozens died in the attempt to flee across the Mediterranean.


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