By Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 15 October 2013:
In a trio of rescues today, two dangerously overloaded inflatables carrying a total of 290 more . . .[restrict]migrants were intercepted by the Italian naval vessels, after the occupants reportedly used a satellite phone to call for help last night.
In response to the Lampedusa disaster 12 days ago, in which it is reckoned more than 200 migrants drowned when their boat was wrecked, and the death of 33 more in a capsize on Friday, the Italian navy has been mounting sea and air patrols, including, according to Reuters, to use of surveillance drones.
It is reported that an Italian frigate and two patrol boats found both migrant vessels 110 kilometres from Lampedusa and brought them to the island. Italian officials said that a third vessel with about another 70 migrants was located elsewhere and the occupants also brought to the tiny island, which has a local population of 5,300.
An Italian coastguard video shows the rescue of 80 people from the smaller vessel. The authorities said that they were from Bangladesh, Nepal and Nigeria. They included ten women, for our whom were pregnant. The other craft was carrying 210 people, mostly from Eritrea, Somalia and Syria, including 32 women and 36 children.
So great has been the influx of migrants on to the island in recent weeks that the governor of Sicily, Rosario Crocetta, under whose jurisdiction Lampedusa falls has declared a state of emergency. This will release funds that can be used to open better temporary accommodation for the migrants on mainland Sicily.