Ship with migrants – illustrative photo.
Rome – After a boat accident off the coast of Libya, 30 people are still missing, 17 have been rescued. According to foreign agencies, the coast guard informed about this this evening, which specified the earlier information of the media and humanitarian organizations about “dozens of missing persons”. The overturned ship was carrying migrants bound for Italy, humanitarian organizations said. One of them, Alarm Phone, already warned on Saturday that the ship was in danger of sinking and the 47 refugees on board would die. Rescue work continues with the help of planes from the EU agency Frontex.
In a post on Twitter, Alarm Phone accused the Italian authorities of “deliberately delaying the rescue operation and letting (the migrants) die”. Authorities sent nearby merchant ships to the scene, but they did not intervene when they arrived, according to Reuters. Later, the Alarm Phone organization added that some of the migrants managed to be rescued on board a merchant ship and that it was asking for them to stay in Europe.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said he was convinced that Italian rescue services would never leave anyone at sea without help. He also warned against possible misuse of the case and called for a thorough analysis of the facts, because “human lives are involved”. The minister commented on the case during his work trip to Israel, ANSA reported.
According to the Italian Coast Guard, the ship had been in Libyan waters since Saturday. The Italians nevertheless launched a rescue operation because they noticed the inactivity of other national rescue and coordination centers in the area, the Italian guard agency ANSA quotes.
The Mediterranean Sea had bad weather over the weekend. According to several sources at the humanitarian organization Mediterranea Saving Humans, the ship sank this morning about 110 miles (177 kilometers) northwest of Benghazi, Libya.
On Saturday, the Italian Coast Guard rescued over 1,400 migrants in 24 hours. In the last four days, almost 6,000 refugees have arrived in Italy, which is roughly the same as last year in January and February. The current wave of migration is likely to continue due to the warm weather.
The Italian government on Thursday approved another migration decree which, among other things, stiffens the sentences for people smugglers to 30 years, up from the maximum previously five years. It is also to create a quota system for work permits for people from countries that will cooperate with the Italian government in the fight against illegal migration. Shortly after the February shipwreck with nearly eight dozen victims, the Italian government said it planned to accept up to 500,000 foreigners who immigrate legally.