Migrant ship headed for Lampedusa despite Salvini warning

ROME – German migrant rescue ship Alan Kurdi is currently on course for Italy's Lampedusa island despite repeated warnings from Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini that the migrants would not be allowed into Italy.

 There are thought to be 64 migrants aboard the ship, which was rescued off the coast of Libya by a German vessel belonging to humanitarian group Sea Eye.

 Migrants aboard the ship were refused entry into Italy or Malta on Thursday night in spite of the violent storms that struck Italy's coast Thursday night. 

 “A ship with a German flag, German NGO, German ship owner, captain from Hamburg. It responded in Libyan waters and asks for a safe port. Good, go to Hamburg,” Salvini said.

 The Alan Kurdi – named in honour of the Syrian toddler who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea – is already outside Libyan borders and is sailing northwards, then towards Maltese or Italian waters, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

 The alarm was raised at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning by Watch the Med Alarm Phone, a telephone service for migrants who face difficulties while crossing the Mediterranean. 

 The rescue operation, which began while the boat was in the Libyan SAR zone searching for 50 migrants missing since Tuesday – ended early Wednesday afternoon with the NGO posting short video on Facebook showing migrants, including 10 women and 6 children, first on a rubber boat and then on board.