Migrants rescued from grounded fishing boat off Sicily

A young migrant hugs a doctor onboard the Sea-Watch 4 rescue ship off the coast of Sicily on September 01, 2020.
A young migrant hugs a doctor onboard the Sea-Watch 4 rescue ship off the coast of Sicily on September 01, 2020. THOMAS LOHNES / AFP
Hundreds of migrants have been rescued from a fishing boat that ran aground, Italy's coast guard said on Wednesday, while 300 more on a humanitarian ship were allowed to disembark.

The coast guard said the overnight rescue of 396 migrants was complicated by “critical and worsening sea conditions and the shallow water” where the boat ran aground off the port of Pozzallo in southeastern Sicily.

Video images showed the grounded fishing boat pitched to one side amid high waves and the loading of migrants onto two port tugboats that helped in the operation.

Meanwhile, after more than a week at sea, 306 migrants on board the Ocean Viking humanitarian rescue boat operated by SOS Mediterranee were given a green light to disembark in Sicily.

Migrants warmed by emergency blankets arrive on a boat of the Italian Guardia Di Finanza law enforcement agency on May 17, 2021.

Migrants warmed by emergency blankets arrive on a boat of the Italian Guardia Di Finanza law enforcement agency on May 17, 2021. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

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“Indescribable relief on the Ocean Viking,” the association said on Twitter, after being told the ship could dock at the port of Augusta, on the island’s east coast.

The charity’s Claire Juchat had earlier appealed for help in a video message from on board.

“We’ve just gone through a storm with over-two metre waves, it’s raining, the bridge is wet, tonight the rescued have been soaked, frozen, we have to be disembarked as quickly as possible,” she said.

The boat rescued the migrants in four separate operations. It had been seeking a port to disembark the migrants since Sunday.

More than 57,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the beginning of the year, compared with about 30,000 in the same period last year, according to the interior ministry.


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