Boat carrying 500 migrants adrift in Mediterranean, IOM says

Rome, May 25 (EFE).- A boat with around 500 migrants on board has been adrift in the central Mediterranean Sea for several days, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday, accusing Italian and Maltese authorities of ignoring the vessel in distress.

“500 people aboard a boat with the engine out of order in the Maltese SAR area. In the absence of intervention by the maritime authorities, the #LifeSupport of @emergency_ong is searching for the vessel,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo wrote on Twitter.

“Once again very long times to save lives at sea,” he said.

Alarm Phone, a hotline service for distressed migrants crossing the Mediterranean, said it first alerted authorities and NGOs of the boat coming from Libya on Tuesday night.

Life Support ship, operated by Emergency NGO, has been working to locate the boat in distress, but to no avail.

“Since this afternoon, all trace of the vessel in distress with 500 people on board has been lost. We have asked #Italy and #Malta to coordinate operations, but no authority has so far agreed to take responsibility for the rescue,” the humanitarian NGO wrote on Twitter late Wednesday.

“We will continue with search operations throughout the night. We are extremely concerned about the fate of these people, who have the right to be rescued,” it added.

The search for the missing boat comes after some 1,200 migrants were rescued in various operations by the Italian coast guard over the past 24 hours, local media reported.

A group of 671 people, including six women and 52 children, are scheduled to arrive later on Thursday at the southern Italian port of Reggio Calabria after they were picked up by the Italian coast guard.

Some 222 others, mainly coming from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, made it to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily on Wednesday, while another 240 migrants were brought to the Sicilian port of Augusta.

Although migrant arrivals on Italian shores have recently decreased in recent days due to bad weather conditions, a total of 46,656 migrants landed in Italy so far in 2023, compared to 17,972 last year, according to official figures from the Italian interior ministry.EFE


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