- Web Desk
- 1 Hour ago
Two dead, 57 rescued from migrant shipwrecks off Italy’s Lampedusa
- Web Desk
- Aug 06, 2023
ROME, (Reuters): The Italian coastguard said on Sunday it had recovered two bodies and rescued 57 migrants off the southern island of Lampedusa, while about 30 people were missing after two shipwrecks.
Rescue operations on Saturday south of Lampedusa were “complex”, the coastguard said, confirming media reports that the two sunken migrant boats had probably set off from Sfax, a hot spot for Tunisia’s migration crisis.
In a statement, the coastguard described the two victims as a woman and a child. Italy’s Ansa news agency earlier identified them as a mother and one-year-old child from the Ivory Coast.
Ansa, citing survivors, also said that one vessel was carrying 48 people, the second 42. Survivors and bodies were picked up 23 nautical miles (46 km) south-west of Lampedusa, it said.
The shipwrecks happened in very rough seas.
Provincial police chief Emanuele Ricifari was quoted by local news website Agrigento Notizie as saying that whoever allowed the migrants to sail in such bad weather “is a crazy criminal with no scruples”.
More than 2,000 people have arrived in Lampedusa in the last few days after being rescued at sea by Italian patrol boats and NGO groups amid strong winds around the island.
On Sunday, mountain rescuers were deployed to pick up 20 migrants stuck on a cliff since late on Friday, when their boat hit rocks on arrival in Lampedusa, local media said.
Meanwhile, NGO group Open Arms wrote on social media site X that it had begun disembarking 195 rescued migrants in the southern Italian port of Brindisi, after more than two days of sailing in rough seas.
Italy’s right-wing government has a policy of assigning far-away ports to charity ships, rather than letting them disembark migrants in Lampedusa or Sicily, with the aim of spreading arrivals across the country.
NGOs say this increases their navigation costs, prolongs the misery of survivors, and reduces the amount of time charity ships can patrol areas of the Mediterranean where shipwrecks are more common.
Italy is experiencing a sharp surge in sea migration, with almost 92,000 arrivals so far this year, according to interior ministry data as of Friday, compared to more than 42,600 in the same period in 2022.