Status: 10/03/2023 10:10 PM
Nearly two weeks ago, a boat carrying 150 migrants capsized off the coast of southern Italy, killing 73 people. Now the Italian Coast Guard is moving to rescue more than 1,000 people on three boats in distress.
The Italian Coast Guard has deployed several vessels to assist three boats of more than 1,000 migrants off the southern Italian coast. She added in a statement that she also uses a plane, which is exceptionally complicated due to the large number of people. A military ship also took part in the rescue operations.
Strong winds and very rough seas are expected for the weekend. A boat with 500 people on board made emergency calls in the morning.
The Tunisian coast guard also reported that they had picked up more than 1,000 migrants off the coast during the night who wanted to cross to Europe. A coast guard spokesman said at least 25 crossings to Italy had been thwarted. Two boats had previously sank off the Tunisian coast, killing 14 people.
At the end of February, 73 people had died
On February 26, the Italian Coast Guard initially did not come to the aid of a boat with more than 150 migrants on board. The police ships tried in vain to intercept the wooden boat, but could not hold out in the rough sea. It capsized off the coast of Calabria, and at least 73 people died. According to information from the European border protection agency Frontex, various authorities have shifted responsibility for the boat back and forth. The Coast Guard had naval vessels.
According to Frontex, the number of life-threatening crossings into the central Mediterranean doubled in the first two months of 2023 to 12,000. The UN migration agency estimates that around 300 people have died.
Tougher penalties for smugglers
The rescues come a day after the Italian government announced tougher penalties for people smugglers. Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced Thursday, after a cabinet meeting, that smugglers and backers could face up to 30 years in prison if fatal accidents occur during irregular crossings.
“We wanted to send a symbolic and tangible signal,” Meloni said of the decree. “I want to fight and defeat these people.” Meloni announced that the new sanctions list affects not only human smugglers and smugglers caught on Italian territory or in Italian waters, but all over the world.