More migrants are being brought ashore to Italy as locals march for victims
ROME – Three boats overcrowded with migrants were safely taken to Italian ports on Saturday, the Coast Guard said, as thousands of protesters commemorated the victims of the deadly shipwreck off the coast of Calabria last month.
The rescue of more than 1,300 migrants came on the same day that three other bodies were found from the shipwreck nearly two weeks ago, bringing the death toll to 76.
The bodies recovered were those of two girls, both under the age of 10, and that of a grown man, Italian news reports said.
The February 26 shipwreck just off the coast of Calabria has drawn sharp criticism from the right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for failing to intervene in time to rescue the migrants.
In Cutro, near the site of the disaster, thousands of protesters accompanied a cross made of splintered wood from the shipwreck, which was carried through the streets to the shore on Saturday.
“Today, this cross is a symbol of suffering,” Domenico “Mimmo” Lucano, a former Calabrian mayor, told ANSA news agency.
“During these emergencies, the Calabrian communities are shaken and what prevails is a spirit of solidarity that the government does not show,” he said.
Lucano is known for his pro-migrant activism.
– On the defensive –
On Friday, the Coast Guard began a three-boat rescue operation, one south of the Calabrian town of Crotone and two further south off Roccella Ionica.
Coast Guard videos showed a large fishing boat bobbing violently back and forth in the night’s rough seas, with dozens of people seen on the deck. Other images showed inflatable lifeboats approaching another fishing vessel filled with people.
The 487 migrants aboard the first boat were safely brought to Crotone port around 0200 GMT on Saturday morning, the coastguard said.
Another operation that rescued 500 migrants from a Coast Guard vessel has been completed, she added. ANSA had previously reported that the ship had docked in the port of Reggio Calabria.
Two Coast Guard patrol vessels rescued a third boat carrying 379 people and transferred the migrants to a naval vessel bound for the Sicilian port of Augusta, sources said.
Italy’s Defense Ministry said it had started transporting migrants from the overcrowded migrant center on the island of Lampedusa, which is now overloaded.
The recent shipwreck has put the government on the defensive.
On Thursday, Meloni held a cabinet meeting in Cutro, near the site of the disaster, and announced a new decree that would provide tougher prison terms for traffickers but no new measures to save lives.
Her far-right Brothers of Italy party, which won last year’s elections, had promised to curb arrivals, but Italy has recently seen a sharp surge in the number of migrants trying to reach its shores via the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.
According to the Interior Ministry, more than 17,500 people have arrived by sea so far this year – almost triple the number for the same period last year.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch