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18 migrants die after boat accident, Italy calls on EU

ROME -- Eighteen bodies were found Sunday aboard an inflatable dinghy adrift off Italy, media reported, amid a new surge of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

The dinghy, which was reportedly carrying 99 people, began to sink just as a rescue helicopter flew over it, an Italian navy captain told local television.

Captain Marco Bilardi of the Sirio said his crew discovered the dinghy after its motor had broken down.

The Sirio crew recovered 73 people, while survivors said eight others had been aboard and had not been found, he added. All the victims were men, Bilardi said.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano slammed the European Union on Sunday for ignoring the crisis, saying it was “blind to what is happening.”

In another rescue early Sunday, 215 migrants — including 55 women and 38 children — were taken aboard the Italian naval vessel Fenice.

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