Italian Island Sees Record-Breaking 50 Migrant Boats Land in 24 Hours

Lampedusa (AG), Migrants inside the Lampedusa Hot-spot in precarious hygienic and sanitary
Alessandro Serrano'/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Italian island of Lampedusa saw a record-breaking number of migrant boats land this weekend, with 50 landings taking place within the space of just 24 hours.

The number of boat landings exceeds the previous record of 36 landings in a 24-hour period. At one point, an estimated 11 migrant boats arrive in the span of a single hour as the island, which lies between Tunisia and Sicily, again became overwhelmed.

Combined with migrant arrivals on the islands of Pantelleria and Marettimo, a total of around 2,000 migrants arrived illegally on Italian territory within a single day, the newspaper Il Giornale reports.

As a result of the landings, the migrant centre in Lampedusa, which is built to accommodate just 350 people, now hosts over 1,500. Authorities are trying to quickly transfer migrants to other areas to prevent living conditions from deteriorating.

Last year, Lampedusa saw around 35,000 migrants arrive. It is home to just 6,500 people normally.

Lampedusa is not the only island to be overwhelmed with arrivals. Pantelleria received nearly 400 migrants despite only having space for a hundred people, according to mayor Vincenzo Campo.

“I ask, since this is a European emergency, greater collaboration with other mayors of Trapani and Sicily to find a structure that can be more suitable. I also call for transfers to be carried out more quickly. We are in great difficulty and we need immediate intervention,” Mayor Campo said.

Illegal boat landings have been the subject of the election campaign of populist League leader Matteo Salvini, who visited Lampedusa in early August, calling for a member of his party to take the helm of the Italian Interior Ministry and noting his own successes as Interior Minister in 2018 and 2019 in reducing illegal immigration.

“I count on a man or a woman from the League at the Viminale [Interior Ministry] because we wrote the security decrees. I think, with regard to immigration, that in 2018 and 2019, Italy was a safer, more protected, more European country. I will go where the Italians send me,” Salvini said, hinting he may be open to returning as Interior Minister.

The centre-right alliance of Salvini’s League, the national conservative Brother of Italy led by firebrand Giorgia Meloni, and Forza Italia, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, are on track to win next month’s election, with pollsters claiming the left-wing parties will not be able to bridge the wide gap ahead of voting day.

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


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