More than 1,000 refugees brought ashore in Italy rescues | News

More than 1,000 refugees brought ashore in Italy rescues | News

The coastguard said it was wrapping up a major rescue operation that began after three boats were spotted adrift off the coast of Italy.

More than 1,000 people were brought to safety in two Italian ports after the overcrowded boats they were traveling in ran into trouble in the Mediterranean, the Italian coastguard said, nearly two weeks after at least 74 people died in the wreck of ship

The coastguard said Saturday it was wrapping up a big rescue operation which began on Friday after three boats were spotted adrift on Italian shores. One is south of the Calabrian city of Crotone and two more south, outside Roccella Ionica.

Coastguard videos showed a large fishing boat violently tossing and turning at night in rough seas with dozens of people seen on deck. Other images showed inflatable rescue boats approaching another fishing vessel full of people.

Multiple operations

The coastguard said the 487 people on board the first boat were brought safely to the port of Crotone around 02:00 GMT on Saturday morning.

Another rescue operation in which 500 people were brought to safety aboard a coastguard ship was wrapping up, it said. News agency ANSA previously reported that the ship was docked at the port of Reggio Calabria.

A third boat carrying 379 people was rescued by two coastguard patrol boats and the refugees were transferred to a navy ship bound for the Sicilian port of Augusta, it said.

Shipwreck investigation

The body of a girl was recovered Saturday near where the shipwreck occurred on February 26, bringing the death toll from that disaster to 74. Seventy-nine people survived the shipwreck, but about 30 are missing, presumed dead.

In total, the United Nations estimates 300 refugees have died in the central Mediterranean so far this year.

The right-wing government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has drawn sharp criticism for failing to intervene in a timely manner to save the shipwreck on February 26, which occurred just off the coast of Calabria.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Italian authorities should have done more to prevent the disaster. Meloni rejected the suggestion and looked to place the blame squarely on the human traffickers.

On Thursday, Meloni held a cabinet meeting in Cutro, near the disaster site, and announced a new order that included tougher prison sentences for human traffickers, but no new measures to help saving lives.

His far-right Brothers of Italy party, which won last year’s election, has pledged to curb the arrivals, but Italy has recently seen a sharp increase in the number of refugees trying to reach its shores in through the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

The interior ministry said more than 17,500 people had arrived by sea so far this year – almost three times the number for the same period last year.