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HELICOPTER

One dead in Italian navy helicopter crash

An Italian Navy helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean during a night-time training exercise, killing one, the navy said on Friday.

One dead in Italian navy helicopter crash
File photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Andrea Fazio, an experienced flight operator based in Catania, Sicily, died after the helicopter crashed into the sea and flipped onto its side as it prepared to land on a patrol boat, the navy said in a statement.

Divers rushed to pull Fazio from the chopper but were unable to revive him. The four other crew members aboard the helicopter escaped without major injuries.

The patrol boat was part of the “Mare Sicuro” (Secure Sea) navy operation in the central Mediterranean.

It was launched in March 2015 to protect oil rigs and fishing boats from ruthless Libyan militias, as well as to combat people trafficking.

The navy has also rescued thousands of migrants during its operations, either by taking them on board or by assisting other rescue ships.

Their onboard helicopters often carry out emergency medical evacuation operations.

IMMIGRATION

Spanish naval ship arrives in Italy to take in 15 rescued migrants

A Spanish navy patrol boat sent to Lampedusa to pick up 15 migrants from the charity rescue ship Open Arms arrived Friday off the southern Italian island, the Spanish government said.

Spanish naval ship arrives in Italy to take in 15 rescued migrants
Spanish naval ship, Audaz, will set sail for Lampedusa. Photo: Spanish Navy / Ministerio Defensa

The Audaz will pick up 15 migrants who arrived in Lampedusa on the Open Arms, Spain's quota of migrants agreed with France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg.

“The navy ship Audaz has arrived in Lampedusa,” government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told a news conference.

Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty andconflict.    

It was not yet clear when the ship will begin its return trip as the 15 migrants still need to go through administrativeprocedures in Italy, Celaa added.

Madrid on Tuesday dispatched the Audaz to take all of the migrants who were aboard the Spanish vessel, stranded off Lampedusa for days because Rome refused to let them set foot on Italian soil.

But just a couple of hours later an Italian prosecutor ordered that the roughly 80 migrants still aboard the Open Arms be allowed to disembark, raising doubts over the mission of the Spanish navy boat.

The Spanish government then decided that the Audaz would continue its trip to Lampedusa to pick up the 15 migrants Madrid had agreed to take in.   

Initially the Open Arms carried 147 mainly African migrants, but all the minors and some suffering health problems disembarked before the ship was finally allowed to dock.

Many of the migrants had spent 19 days aboard the ship after being picked up while trying to make the perilous voyage from Libya to Europe in small boats.

READ ALSO: Spanish armada sets sail to save migrants stuck off Italy

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