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18 dead as migrants flock to Italy

Italian authorities have discovered 18 bodies in a boat of migrants as rescue operations went into overdrive this weekend, with 3,500 would-be refugees picked up at sea.

The navy said that its Sirio patrol ship was docking in Pozzallo, southern Sicily, with 266 migrants and 18 corpses aboard.

Since Friday, some 3,500 migrants have been rescued; some 100,000 have arrived this year.

Interior minister Angelino Alfano renewed his demand for the European Union to relieve pressure on Italy.

The country says it is spending 9.5 million euro (£7.5 million) monthly to operate beefed-up patrols following the drowning deaths of more than 360 migrants near the Italian island of Lampedusa last October.

Mr Alfano warned "Italy will make its own decisions" if EU partners do not offer assistance.

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