ROME -- The Italian coast guard rescued 166 people on a wooden migrant boat that got into difficulty off the southern coast of the Sicilian island Lampedusa, officials said on Sunday.
The boat, which set off from Libya, sank shortly after the rescue operation, which took place late on Saturday night in Maltese territorial waters.
Video footage released by the coast guard showed the operation, which involved vessels from the Guardia de Finanza frontier police and the Italian navy.
Thousands of people have died attempting the dangerous crossing from North Africa to Europe in overcrowded and frequently unseaworthy vessels.
On Saturday, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called for the creation of a regional task force to coordinate the response to the crisis.
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