Some 1,200 illegal migrants arrive by boat in Italy

Lampedusa, Italy, Apr 24 (EFE).- Some 1,200 illegal migrants on Monday arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on 35 boats that apparently set out from Tunis on a journey during which three of the vessels sank and dozens of people are missing, the Italian Coast Guard reported.

Coast Guard officials said in a communique that between Sunday night and Monday the service provided aid to a total of 35 boats carrying some 1,200 migrants, all of whom disembarked on the small island of Lampedusa.

During its rescue operations, the Coast Guard and the Finance Guard – Italy’s border police – rendered emergency aid to three vessels that were sinking.

The first vessel in difficulty was located in Italy’s Search and Rescue (SAR) zone 20 nautical miles from Lampedusa, a mishap in which three of the migrants on board are missing.

Aid was rendered to a second sinking boat in the Maltese SAR zone, with 34 migrants being rescued but 20 others remaining unaccounted for, according to migrants on that boat.

When authorities responded to the third shipwreck, also in Malta’s SAR, they found only the lifeless body of one migrant in the vicinity.

The bodies of two migrants – a man and a woman – were delivered to the Cala Pisana funeral home in Lampedusa on Monday.

The emergency situation is continuing on the tiny island because “about 20” more boats have been detected at sea – presumably after setting out from Tunisia and/or Libya – according to the Italian Coast Guard, which is dealing with the situation with the help of the European border control agency (FRONTEX) and several non-governmental organizations.

The sailing vessel Astral, belonging to Spain’s Open Arms NGO, has been participating in rescue operations since it put to sea and so far has rescued 47 migrants, among whom have been a baby and a pregnant woman whose health situation is serious, as a result of which the vessel is also heading for Lampedusa where she will be disembarked to receive medical attention.

The Doctors Without Borders vessel Geo Barents on Monday reportedly rescued 75 migrants, including 40 children and 13 women, who were on board a boat in international waters off the coast of Libya.

EFE –/bp

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