Over 1,500 migrants rescued off Italian coast

Rome, Jul 24 (EFE).- More than 1,500 people have arrived on the Italian coast in the space of a few hours, official sources reported on Sunday.

The bodies of five migrants were recovered next to a merchant ship by security forces, while the rescue ships Ocean Viking and Sea-Watch 3 pulled out 500 people off the central Mediterranean.

A drifting fishing boat with 674 people was rescued by a merchant ship and patrol boats from the Italian coast guard 124 miles from the southern Italian region of Calabria on Saturday, according to officials.

Those rescued were transferred to the ports of Calabria and Sicily after a rescue operation.

In addition, some 900 migrants, mostly Afghans, Pakistanis, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Somalis, Nigerians, Senegalese and Eritreans, have been arriving on the southern island of Lampedusa since Saturday, overcrowding the reception center.

Last week, the Italian Navy sent a ship to transfer about 600 migrants to other cities.

“Lampedusa is in an emergency,” Italian right-wing leader Matteo Salvini said Sunday.

The Sea Watch3 has also rescued 428 people in four operations carried out Saturday after being alerted by the Alarm Phone, an NGO that receives calls from migrants encountering problems while sailing in the central Mediterranean.

“The Sea-Watch3 has now 428 people on board, rescued from 4 overcrowded boats within 12 hours yesterday,” the NGO wrote on Twitter.

Those people “the EU would rather see dead or illegally pulled back to Libya. Deaths and human rights violations are accepted as measures to seal off the Fortress Europe. Let’s tear down these walls! In the Mediterranean and everywhere,” it added.

The Ocean Viking, meanwhile, carried out a rescue operation Sunday after spotting an overcrowded boat in international waters coming from Libya with 87 people, including 57 unaccompanied minors.

“None of them had lifejackets,” the rescue ship of SOS Mediterranee posted to Twitter.EFE


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