Over 1,400 migrants rescued in southern Italy in past 24 hours
Rome, Mar 11 (EFE).- A boat carrying over 500 migrants that ran into trouble off the southern Italian coast docked in the port of Crotone on Saturday after being rescued and brought back to shore by the Italian Coast Guard.
Several other migrant vessels remained in distress in the central Mediterranean.
On Thursday, multiple boats carrying about 1,000 migrants needed help from the coast guard amid stormy conditions.
A total of 1,400 people have since been saved, and operations continued Saturday to rescue another boat carrying around 150 migrants.
The organization Alarm Phone, which receives distress calls from migrant barges, warned on Saturday that a boat that set sail from Libya with 47 people was adrift, adding that “sea conditions are extremely dangerous and immediate help is needed”.
The Italian Navy also took part in the complex rescue operations in a bid to avoid a repeat of the tragedy on February 26 when a fishing boat from Turkey sank, killing at least 73 migrants.
Meanwhile, the tiny island of Lampedusa, the southernmost Italian enclave and “gateway to Europe” for migrants setting sail from North Africa, experienced a day of constant migrant arrivals, saturating its already overwhelmed reception center.
More than 3,000 migrants are being housed in a facility that is only designed to hold 300 people after the huge number of arrivals in recent days.
The Italian government, led by the far-right Giorgia Meloni, has approved a decree that will increase the penalties for “traffickers”, those in charge of driving the boats on the orders of criminal organizations on land.
If caught, they could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, while before the penalty was a maximum of 5 years. EFE