UPDATE 1-Nearly 1,000 Tunisian migrants reach Italy overnight
ROME, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Nearly 1,000 people escaping turmoil in Tunisia landed on an Italian island overnight on Sunday after the government declared a wave of illegal immigrants a humanitarian emergency.
Struggling local authorities called for more support on Sunday to help handle the increasing stream of migrants into Lampedusa, a Sicilian island closer to Africa than mainland Italy, after thousands of arrivals in the past week.The situation has alarmed Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government, which proclaimed a humanitarian emergency following a meeting on Saturday, giving authorities extraordinary powers setting aside normal bureaucracy to control migrant flows, in part by blocking incoming boats off-shore.
The interim government running Tunisia since its president was overthrown last month will discuss the issue, but Italy has yet to make direct contact with it about the problem, a government spokesman told Reuters.....Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Sunday repeated calls to the European Union for help after one boat sank off Tunisia's coast on Saturday, with at least one migrant reported dead.
"We have to mobilise countries around the Mediterranean which have boats, aircraft, helicopters," Frattini said in an interview with the Corriere Della Sera newspaper.