ROME - Seven migrants are missing off the southeastern Italian coast after the small boat they were traveling in capsized, a port authority official said on Tuesday.

Four people have been rescued, the official said. Those rescued said there were 11 in total on the boat, including five Libyans, four Afghans and two Tunisians. It was still unclear where they departed from.

Police and the coast guard have sent boats and helicopters to the site where the boat capsized in the Strait of Otranto, between southern Italy and Albania.

Italy has borne the brunt of a crisis of clandestine immigration that has flared on and off in southern Europe for several years.

Tens of thousands of illegal migrants have made the crossing from North Africa, most risking the dangerous voyage in small, overcrowded fishing boats, and thousands have died as a result of shipwreck or harsh conditions at sea.

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