Hundreds of illegal migrants land on tiny island off Sicily

More than 500 illegal migrants landed Thursday on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa, port authorities said.

The migrants came in three batches: two boats carrying a combined passenger load of 389 people arrived in the morning, followed by a third boat later in the day carrying approximately 190 people, Palermo port authority chief Francesco Galipo said.

Passengers on the third boat were met at sea by port authority officials, who loaded the migrants on their own motorboats and brought them in, he said.

The migrants, who included women and children, were taken to the island's holding center while their identities and papers were being checked, Galipo said.

Thousands of illegal migrants attempt to reach Italy's coastline every year, mainly from North Africa. Many of those who elude authorities make their way to other European countries, reports AP.

O.Ch.