About 350 illegal migrants from Tunisia have reached Italy by boat, raising fears of more people strife-torn North Africa will try to cross the Mediterranean for Europe.
The fishing boat arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa which is only about 100 miles from the Tunisian coast.
On the whole, thousands of others from Tunisia have arrived in Italy since mid-February.
Italian officials said most of the arrivals were Tunisians, but also included two German TV journalists who filmed the crossing.
Italian police placed the migrants (including four women) in a reception centre, described as a centre for identification and expulsion.”
Bernardino De Rubeis, Lampedusa's mayor, has called the situation out of control.
Roberto Maroni, the Italian Interior Minister, has warned of a possible illegal exodus from Libya too, noting that there are currently at least 1.5-million illegal migrants already living in Libya, perhaps as many as 2.5-million.
They are now fleeing to the west [Tunisia] and to the east [Egypt] but I expect in the future they could also head north [towards Italy], Maroni told the Italian parliament.
Last week at an EU meeting in Brussels, Maroni, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, warned of a catastrophic humanitarian emergency arising from the unrest in North Africa.
Franco Frattini, Italy's foreign minister, told Al-Jazeera his country is bearing the burden of people that violate international and European law.
One simple fact is very clear: Italy is by far the country that has been saving lives and rescuing the hugest number of migrants in need on the Mediterranean,” he said. “We saved thousands and thousands of human lives and we are very proud of it.