Italian coast guard rescues more than 670 migrants on drifting trawler near Calabria

More than a thousand people have arrived on Italian shores in the last few hours

The Italian Coast Guard has staged a major rescue operation in the last hours to save 674 migrants who were on a drifting fishing boat off the coast of Calabria, where five lifeless people have also been identified.

The operation, which occurred on Saturday 124 nautical miles off the coast, involved three coast guard patrols, a merchant ship, and a unit of the Guardia di Finanza, the security corps of the Ministry of Economy, usually involved in rescue tasks.

The Italian Coast Guard even had to pull people out of the water because of the situation of the fishing vessel, initially sighted by a P72A maritime patrol used by the Italian Navy, which made the first sighting, and a Frontex aircraft which followed the event.

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Part of the rescued migrants have begun to be transferred this morning to the ports of Calabria and Sicily.

The Italian Coast Guard has underlined in its statement that the last hours “have been particularly demanding” for the Coast Guard patrol boats, which had previously rescued, together with the ship ‘Diciotti’, other migrants who were in boats in precarious sailing conditions, without determining the exact number.

In fact, it was necessary the intervention of a helicopter that departed from the air base of the Catania Coast Guard to carry out the medical evacuation of a woman.

To this figure must be added another 522 people arrived during the past night on the island of Lampedusa from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia in particular, on board fifteen different boats, coming from Tunisia and Libya.

The Lampedsa reception center, according to Italian media, is absolutely overflowing, with 1,200 people inside, three times more than the maximum allowed.

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Meanwhile, NGOs continue to work at sea. SeaWatch has reported this Sunday four rescue operations in the last 24 hours . “On board the SeaWatch3, we have 428 people, including women and children, a nine-month pregnant woman and a patient with severe burns,” it has reported on its Twitter account.

The OceanViking, of the NGO SOS Méditerranée, has meanwhile rescued 87 people, including 57 unaccompanied minors, crammed into “an overcrowded inflatable boat in distress in international waters off Libya.”

Between January 1 and July 22, 34,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, compared to 25,500 in the same period in 2021 and 10,900 in 2020, according to the Interior Ministry.

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