Italian rescue teams find no trace of an endangered vessel carrying 500 migrants in the Mediterranean

Italian rescue teams find no trace of an endangered vessel carrying 500 migrants in the Mediterranean

A day after searching a stretch of the Mediterranean Sea, an Italian aid group said on Friday that its rescue ship had found no trace of a boat believed to be in distress and carrying 500 migrants, including a newborn.

The ship “Life Support did not find wreckage from any shipwreck and the 500 people did not disembark in Italy,” the non-governmental organization Emergency said in a written statement from Milan. “It’s hard to believe that no coastal authority knows where these 500 people are.”

The emergency has raised the possibility that the migrants will be brought back to Libya, the starting point for many of the smugglers’ boats that aim to bring migrants to the coast of Italy. The group’s statement said Libyan authorities had so far denied it would bring passengers back to Libya, where many migrants spend months in inhumane conditions in detention camps, often suffering beatings or rape, until they or their families are on their land. natives can pay smugglers for sea travel to Italy.


On Tuesday, another NGO, Alarm Phone, which takes calls from boats of migrants in distress, said a boat with 500 migrants needed help.

Emergency said Life Support sailed for 32 hours to reach the area where the ship in distress is believed to have been and searched for 24 hours on Thursday in international waters that form part of Malta’s search and rescue area. But the group said late on Thursday that worsening weather was forcing an end to the search.

Italian rescue teams have yet to find any physical evidence that points them to a ship carrying 500 migrants who disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea.

It is believed that on board the boat were 45 women, some of them pregnant, and 56 children, including a baby apparently born during the voyage.

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The Libyan coastguard did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on Emergency’s hypothesis that the migrants were taken back to Libya.

On Thursday, the Italian coastguard said one of its vessels, in two separate operations, had rescued nearly 1,100 migrants from two fishing boats in distress in its search-and-rescue area.

The Italian coastguard has denied any role involving a third boat in distress, with 27 migrants on board. He said merchant ships were involved in assisting that boat and “although initially contacted by the Italian rescue centre, they (the cargo ships) received instructions directly from the Libyan authorities, as part of an event that took place within the area of ​​responsibility” of Libya .


The Libyans “legitimately assumed the coordination” of the rescue, the Italian coastguard said in a statement on Thursday that denied involvement in any “repulsion” of the migrants to Libya.


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