ROME (Reuters) - Two migrants drowned off the coast of Sicily, Italy’s coastguard said on Friday, adding to the thousands who have died in the Mediterranean in the last year as European Union leaders argued in Brussels over how to deal with the crisis.
A coastguard helicopter saw the two corpses floating in the sea off the coast of Siculiana in Western Sicily, a spokesman said, adding that only one of the two bodies has so far been picked up.
The helicopter was sent out after around 40 migrants who said they were from Libya and Tunisia were stopped by police after reaching shore in a wooden boat, he said. No further details were available.
Italy and Greece are on the frontline of Europe’s biggest immigration crisis since World War Two, with hundreds of overcrowded boats packed with migrants from North Africa and Turkey reaching their shores.
The sea route to Italy from Africa is particularly perilous. Of the more than 3,700 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean in 2015, some 2,000 happened on the way to Italy from North Africa.
EU leaders have been locked in a dispute over how to deal with the migrant crisis at a summit that began in Brussels on Thursday.
Reporting by Gavin Jones; editing by Katharine Houreld