Over 1,000 migrants reach Italian isle; 23 reported missing

Rome, April 25 (BNA): As calm seas return, migrant smugglers launched dozens of boats from Tunisia over the weekend, with some 1,200 people ending up on a small Italian island while many more were reported missing at sea, the Italian Coast Guard reported. Monday said.

Coast Guard officials said in a statement that they responded to 35 boats that left Tunisia, three of which were saddled, according to the Associated Press.

In a shipwreck about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Lampedusa island, coast guard and border police ships said three migrants were missing.

In a second, in the Malta search and rescue area, survivors said about 20 people were missing, while in the third, also in the Malta rescue area, the body of a man was recovered by Italian rescuers, according to the coast guard. She added that about 20 other boats packed with migrants were at sea on Monday night.

The coast guard said the air and sea assets of the coast guard, border police and the European border protection agency Frontex as well as a humanitarian organization were involved in the assistance.

Dozens of migrants sat on Monday morning near the port of Lampedusa, waiting to be taken to the island’s overcrowded refuge or eventually to Sicily or the Italian mainland.

Italian news reports said that a Tunisian fishing boat off the island of Lampedusa earlier Monday helped a distressed migrant boat with 34 people and bodies on board, and the survivors were later transferred to an Italian coast guard ship.

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On Sunday, as the seas calmed down after four days of rough conditions, a total of 640 migrants arrived in Lampedusa, and hundreds more on Monday.

In the past week, Italian authorities have used commercial ferries and military vessels to ferry migrants from Lampedusa to Sicily or the mainland – leaving the migrant center in Lampedusa short of its capacity of nearly 400 people.

But with so many boats arriving as of Sunday, the number of migrants there has swelled rapidly, and authorities are racing again to make arrangements for more transfers off the island.

Separately, the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said the rescue ship Geo Barents came to the aid of 75 migrants – including 40 minors – in a wooden boat that sank in international waters off Libya on Monday.


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