One Migrant Dead and 22 Missing in Shipwreck off Lampedusa

A woman is helped by rescuers as migrants disembark from the Guardia Costiera boat in the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on July 29, 2020. - Boats with migrants mainly from Tunisia continue to arrive on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Intercepted by the boats of the Italian costal guard …
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty

ROME — A boat carrying 48 African migrants sank this weekend off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, leaving one dead and 22 still missing.

During rescue operations, later interrupted due to bad weather, the Tunisian Navy was able to save 25 of the migrants — including six Tunisian women — and also recovered the body of one migrant who had drowned.

The vessel carrying the migrants departed from the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax during the night between Friday and Saturday.

In a statement, the Tunisian Navy announced that it had saved 25 of the shipwrecked in rescue operations about 60 miles northwest of Lampedusa and had taken them back to Tunis.

Just hours earlier, 110 migrants were rescued in the same waters by the Open Arms NGO, following a report sent to Alarm Phone.

The migrants, crammed aboard a rubber dinghy, called Alarm Phone, a migrant alert service, asking for help as the sea grew rough.

For its part, Alarm Phone announced on Twitter: “The weather is getting worse, they tell us that there are high waves and a storm in progress. The authorities are informed. Help is needed immediately! Don’t let them drown!”

Several hours later, a vessel of the Spanish NGO Open Arms arrived and brought aboard the more than 100 migrants.

According to reports, the migrants were then transported to Porto Empedocle in Sicily.

Shortly thereafter, the leader of Italy’s Lega party, Matteo Salvini, once again expressed his concern over growing numbers of illegal immigrants reaching Italy’s shores.

“Five million legal immigrants in Italy, they are my brothers and sisters,” Salvini wrote on Twitter. “On the other hand, landings and illegal immigration generate problems. I believe that with Draghi we will be in harmony, the borders of Italy are the borders of Europe.”

Salvini has been a harsh critic of NGOs operating in the Mediterranean Sea, accusing them of providing a free “taxi service” to migrants wishing to reach Italy, and of being complicit in the trafficking of persons.

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