Over 1,000 Migrants Reach Italian Isle
Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press, April 24, 2023
With the return of calm seas, migrant smugglers launched dozens of boats from Tunisia during the weekend and some 1,200 people ended up on a tiny Italian island while several were reported missing at sea, the Italian Coast Guard said Monday.
Coast guard officials said in a statement that they responded to 35 boats that had left Tunisia, three of which came to grief.
In one shipwreck some 20 nautical miles off Lampedusa island coast guard and border police vessels said three migrants were missing. In a second, in Malta’s search-and-rescue area, survivors said some 20 people were missing, while in the third, also in Malta’s rescue area, Italian rescuers recovered a man’s body, the Coast Guard said.
Some 20 more boats crowded with migrants were in the sea Monday night, it said.
Earlier Monday, a Tunisian fishing boat off Lampedusa aided a distressed migrant boat carrying 34 people and a body, and the survivors were later transferred to an Italian coast guard vessel, Italian news reports said.
On Sunday, with seas calm after four days of rough conditions, a total of 640 migrants reached Lampedusa, and hundreds more on Monday.
According to Italian Interior Ministry figures, by Monday morning more than 36,600 migrants had arrived in Italy since the start of the year. That’s more than four times the number for the same period in each of the two previous years.