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25 Migrants Found Dead On Boat To Italy

Italy's coast guard has found the bodies of 25 would-be migrants in the hold of a boat crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Officials said they found the corpses -- all young men -- crammed into a small space between the hold and the engine room.

The cause of the deaths have not been confirmed, but officials said they thought the men died of asphyxiation.

The boat, which had set sail from Libya two days ago, was carrying 296 people.

Reports said that as the air became unbreathable due to engine fumes, the 25 men tried to exit but were pushed back by other migrants because there was no space on the overcrowded deck. Some 33,000 people fleeing unrest in North Africa have arrived in Lampedusa since January.

compiled from agency reports