Italy grants migrant rescue ship access


Italian authorities agreed to grant the Open Arms ship port access to disembark 62 African migrants, the founder of the Spanish rescue mission said.

Oscar Camps said the vessel is set to dock at the southern Italian port Taranto on Tuesday, although the eventual destination can change.

Italy initially refused entry for the group of 73 African migrants which the Open Arms crew plucked from a packed rubber dinghy drifting 50 miles off Libya, suggesting the vessel should instead put them ashore in Tripoli.

Yhe coastguard evacuated 11 requiring medical attention Augusta and Italy’s Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese signalled the country might soften its position.

Conditions aboard the vessels deteriorated as a powerful storm hit the Mediterranean, creating waves of up to 3m waves.

Among the group of mostly Central and West Africans are three women, two toddlers and 24 unaccompanied minors in search of a better life in Europe.

The Italian government has taken a hard line against immigration and previously resisted attempts by rescue ships to land migrants in its territory.

A prolonged stand-off with the Open Arms was resolved after a court ordered authorities to open a port, allowing 100 migrants to disembark.

On the island Lampedusa, the bodies of five women were retrieved on Sunday after their boat capsized in bad sea conditions, Italian Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard saved 149 people on Saturday, including 13 women and three children, from the sinking vessel after it was reported in distress less than a mile off Lampedusa.

Survivors said up to 20 people were unaccounted for. Those missing at sea were from Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.

There have been almost 1 000 confirmed deaths on the three main migration routes across the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

“We need decisive action from the Italian government and Europe to stop human traffickers,” Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello said from Barcelona, where he is meeting his counterpart Ada Colau to discuss the migrant crisis.