Three boats carrying 667 African refugees from Libya including many women and children arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa today and more are on the way, a border guard spokesman said.

Their rescue was coordinated by the Armed Forces of Malta.

The AFM said in a statement that it was involved in further operations today and deployed a patrol boat and an aircraft south of Lampedusa late this afternoon,

Earlier in the day, it was responsible for the overall co-ordination of SAR operations being conducted in international waters, south of Lampedusa. The operations followed sightings, reported yesterday by a Nato vessel helicopter, of boats laden with migrants allegedly crossing over from Libya.

With deteriorating weather consitions at sea and limited visibility in the air, the AFM's assets conducted searches throughout the afternoon along with Italian rescue helicopters and launches, unsuccessfully.

Some of the boats had allegedly stopped due to engine failures, whilst others were escorted by the Italians to the nearest safe port at Lampedusa.

In the Eastern sector of the Maltese SRR, the Icelandic offshore patrol vessel "Iceland", operating under the Frontex joint-operation "Poseidon", successfully rescued 93 Egyptians from a wooden vessel which was adrift due to engine failure in a position 62 miles off Crete.

The immigrants rescued yesterday were last night have been transferred to the temporary facilities of Contrada Imbriacola on Lampedusa.

Most are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa.

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