Dozens of Migrants Rescued Off Italy; Up to 20 Feared Missing
Italian coast guards on Saturday said they had rescued 143 migrants off the island of Lampedusa, although around 20 others were apparently missing, according to the survivors.
"The crews of four patrols rescued 143 people who had fallen into the sea" from a 10-meter boat, the coast guard said in a statement.
Two men, an Eritrean and a Libyan, said they had been unable to locate their wives following the rescue.
A search for those missing continued Saturday evening with two planes from Frontex — the border and coast guard agency for the EU's Schengen area — and the Italian navy flying over the area.
Police were also searching the Lampedusa coast to see if any of the migrants had swum ashore.
Those rescued were taken to Lampedusa, where they disembarked.
Meanwhile, Italy, Germany, France and Malta jointly asked the European Commission to activate a migrant-relocation scheme for 213 migrants on board the Ocean Viking rescue ship, the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The ministry said "this is the first time this has happened" since the four nations in September signed a pre-agreement for the automatic distribution of rescued migrants in the Mediterranean.
The Ocean Viking, chartered by SOS Mediterranee with Doctors Without Borders, has rescued 215 people in three operations in recent days. One injured man and a pregnant woman had already been taken off the boat.
by via Voice of America - English