Italian Island Sees 500 Illegal Migrants Land in 48 Hours

LAMPEDUSA, ITALY - AUGUST 04: An inflatable boat used by migrants landed in recent days in
Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

In a period of just 48 hours, the Italian island of Lampedusa is said to have seen around 500 migrants arrive on its shores after a brief break from arrivals in recent weeks.

On early Friday morning, there were four migrant vessels that landed on the Italian island, which lies between Tunisia and the island of Sicily.

The first landing took place at around 2 a.m. after a boat was intercepted by the Port Authority and the Guardia di Finanza about 18 miles from the coast of the island. Onboard, a woman who had travelled with her 14-year-old son was found dead, newspaper Il Giornale reports.

Not long after the discovery of the boat, another small vessel was found by a local patrol boat with 21 migrants on board, including three children and six women. At around 4:30 a.m. a much larger ship was intercepted by the Port Authority with 155 people on board, including 21 children and 11 women.

The final vessel landed on the island at around 6 a.m. containing 65 migrants, which had been discovered adrift by a Port Authority patrol boat around 30 miles off the Lampedusa coast. In total, the past 48-hours had seen around 500 migrants arrive on the island, according to the newspaper.

The reception centre on the island of Lampedusa is built to only house around 250 migrants but has once again become overloaded due to the new influx of arrivals.

In October, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF), an NGO which has funded migrant transport ships in the Mediterranean, suggested that the reception facility should be expanded in order to accommodate the large number of arrivals.

Attilio Lucia, the local coordinator for populist League (Lega) leader Matteo Salvini, dismissed the idea at the time, saying: “For 35 years, we have been fighting against this invasion. The NGOs have to understand that they must leave the island. The government must intervene to block the landings and instead create vital structures that Lampedusans need.”

Over the last several months, Lampedusa has seen several large influxes in a short period of time, including in September when a single vessel offloaded 686 migrants.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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