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Migrants entering the EU. Photo supplied

Over 140 immigrants recovered after shipwreck near Lampedusa

A boat loaded with illegal migrants who had left from the coast of North Africa, overturned while being escorted by Italian Coast Guard patrol boats.

Published: November 24, 2019, 9:10 am

    Lampedusa

    The shipwreck occurred less than a mile from Lampedusa and the 143 people who ended up in the sea were immediately recovered.

    But the leftist PD party was quick to once again demand the immediate reopening of Italy’s ports. “For heaven’s sake, the confrontation between Grillo and Zingaretti on the future is exciting,” tweeted the PD member Matteo Orfini. He added:”But isn’t it possible that in the meantime we could take care of the present and assign a safe harbor to the three ships that have been asking for it for days? Let’s stop behaving like Salvini.”

    This afternoon a citizen reported to the Coast Guard of Lampedusa the presence of a barge in difficulty less than a mile from the coast. “Immediately four patrol boats were sent out on the spot and a helicopter and an airplane of the Coast Guard of Catania were alerted,” the same Coast Guard reported to the Agi agency.

    Once they had arrived, the patrol boats identified the boat that did not measure more than ten meters. The bad weather conditions turned it upside down as soon as the navy’s vehicles arrived. At that point the crews of the patrol boats immediately recovered the 143 immigrants who had fallen into the sea.

    Immediately after the Coast Guard intervention, which also requested the intervention of a patrol vessel and two Guardia di Finanza patrol boats, the 143 immigrants recovered at sea were taken to the port of Lampedusa.

    “To continue the search, a Frontex plane was also dispatched and an aircraft from the Navy was also alerted.” In ensuring that no “bodies without life are sighted”, they are still looking for missing people.

    The operations were made very difficult by the bad weather conditions. The leader of the League Matteo Salvini pointed the finger at Premier Giuseppe Conte and the Giallorossi coalition: “The government, by having reopened ports, has on its conscience every dead and missing person resulting from new departures.”

    The bad weather is putting the at serious risk those who are leaving Libya. On Twitter the Spanish Open Arms NGO, one of the most active in the Mediterranean and especially along the Libyan route, has sounded the alarm explaining that in the next few hours waves of more than four meters are expected in the Mediterranean Sea.

    “We continue without a safe haven for the 73 people on board and without authorization to disembark despite the storm. This is Europe today,” the volunteers wrote on social network.

    In the meantime, however, the Interior Ministry of Luciana Lamorgese has made it known that “for the Ocean Viking, the ship from the French NGO Sos Mediterranée that works together with Doctors Without Borders to navigate in the Mediterranean and rescue boats in difficulty, Italy, Germany, France and Malta have jointly requested the European Commission to activate the procedure for relocating migrants aboard the Ocean Viking”.

    The Viminale said it was “the first time this happens: the European intervention is urged by all the countries that have shared the Valletta pre-agreement”.

    For the Ministry of the Interior it is “a significant step towards a true solidarity management of the migratory flows affecting the Mediterranean route”.

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