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Fishing boat full of more than 500 migrants arrives in Lampedusa


Italian military vessels on Saturday aided a dilapidated fishing boat filled with 539 migrants as it approached the small island of Lampedusa in southern Italy.

Alida Serrachieri, a nurse who heads the Doctors Without Borders operation in Lampedusa, said the passengers included three women and several unaccompanied minors.

Two coast guard ships and a customs boat transported them ashore in small groups.

Serrachieri said she did not know how long the fishing boat had been at sea after being launched from the Libyan coast. But she said the migrants had spent weeks or even months in Libya awaiting passage in the traffickers’ boats in the hope of reaching Europe.

At least 20 of the migrants who were examined by medical staff bore torture scars, she said.

“They had burns, gunshot wounds,” Serrachieri told the AP. “(They) were badly worn, some were dehydrated.”

Overload

Many migrants came from North or West Africa, but some came from Bangladesh, she said.

In addition, two small boats with around 15 migrants each reached the waters of Lampedusa unassisted from Tunisia earlier on Saturday, she said. A third of these boats with around 20 on board was spotted approaching Lampedusa on Saturday afternoon.

The island’s housing complex, where migrants are staying while the first papers are completed for asylum claims, can hold around 250 people, but Saturday’s arrivals brought the number of occupants to around 1,200. Many migrants were waiting for a transfer by boat to Sicily or the Italian mainland.

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euronews Gt

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