Italian authorities have intercepted a boatload of 32 people believed to be from Egypt as the wave of would-be immigrants from North Africa toward Italy's shores continues unabated.

The naval section of Italy's financial police said it intercepted the boat overnight off the coast of Ragusa, on the Sicilian mainland.

No boats arrived overnight on the tiny island of Lampedusa farther south, where more than 5,000 Tunisians have landed in recent days in an unintended consequence of the "people's revolution" that ousted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and inspired the uprisings in Egypt and beyond.

Italy has demanded the European Union step in to deal with what one minister has called an exodus of biblical proportions.