Thousands of Mediterranean migrants rescued
3 May 2015
ROME - Italian coast guard, merchant ships and Navy vessels saved as many as 3,690 illegal migrants trying reach Italy from Africa over the week-end in 17 different operations, coastguard officials said Sunday.
Nevertheless at least 10 migrants died before rescuers could reach them, the officials said. Three of the dead were in a boat with 105 other people on board who were rescued 45 nautical miles northeast of Tripoli, while four other corpses were found on another dinghy with 73 people aboard assisted by the merchant ship Zeran 35 miles northeast of Tripoli. Three other migrants died after diving into the sea from a boat in an attempt to reach the 'Med 8,' a tugboat approaching them to help. Some 80 people were on their boat discovered by the tug some 35 miles north of Zhuwara.
The thousands of migrants saved were due to arrive in Sicilian and Calabrian ports Sunday and Monday including 877 expected at Pozzallo in Ragusa province aboard the tug Asso 29.
A forther 173 migrants were landed on the tiny island of Lampedusa Saturday evening while 760 on the Italian navy vessel Bersagliere were due to arrive Monday at the port of Reggio Calabria and 216 more aboard the freighter Birot at the Calabrian port of Crotone.
The arrival of the 172 at Lampedusa took the total number of migrants there to 519 so 250 of them were being transferred out of the isle Sunday to prevent its resources being swamped.
Police at Pozzallo where the largest number of migrants was due to arrive were preparing to carry out inquiries to see if there were any smugglers among the migrants and ensure that public order is not jeopardised by the mass arrival, police sources said.