Only about 150 (or maybe 130) North African refugees landed in Italy yesterday — not enough to update the Cultural Enrichment Thermometer — but they landed in an unusual location: Otranto, at the southern end of the heel in the Italian boot.
Fishing Boat With Migrants Rescued in Otranto, 130 on Board
(AGI) Otranto — A Guardia di Finanza patrol boat sighted, 2 miles off Otranto, an 18-meter fishing boat carrying approx 150 people. The patrol boat, together with a Coast Guard vessel supported the migrants boat, which suffered a failure, and had the passengers board the Italian vessel. At about 2.30 am, the military vessels brought safely the Libyan refugees — all men — in the port of Otranto.
Those were the ones who made it across the Med to safety, but there were about 750 on a boat out of Libya that broke down. Up to a third of those passengers are thought to have perished after jumping into the sea.
First, a brief article from AGI:
Tunisian Migrant Boat Breaks Down, Over 200 Missing
(AGI) Tunis — The Tunisian TAP agency says 200 to 270 migrants are lost off Tunisia after a boat carrying them to Italy broke down. The Tunisian coastguard has taken 570 migrants to safety, but there are fears that another two hundred or so fell into the sea in the fight to get off the boat and may have drowned.
A somewhat longer account was posted by ANSAmed, but it doesn’t mention any deaths:
Tunisia: Rescue of Vessel With 700 People
(ANSAmed) — Tunis, June 1 — Late last night units of Tunisia’s Coast Guard and Army rescued, some twenty miles off the shore of Kerkennah island, a ship that was on the verge of sinking and that was carrying approximately 700 people of various nationalities (mostly African) that departed from a port in Libya.
Some sources reported to TAP that the ship was sailing towards the Italian coast and was carrying entire families and many children.
The rescue operations, which started last night, are still in progress because of adverse sea conditions, and the large number of people still on the ship, which is in shallow waters, preventing Coast Guard and Army vessels from coming too near.
The illegal aliens that are still on board and waiting to be transferred are being provided with food and blankets.
Transfer operations are thus being carried out with small boats and rubber dinghies, which are carrying the illegal aliens (children first) onto a Navy ship that is anchored a short distance away in deeper waters. Should the weather conditions improve, the rescue operations could also be joined by fishing boats that station in the section of coast running from Kraten to Kerkennah and that have offered their assistance. After receiving first aid, the refugees will all be transferred to camp Choucha, next to the borderline with Libya.
And a more detailed article from AFP:
Up to 270 Migrants Missing Off Tunisia Coast: Official
TUNIS (AFP) — Up to 270 migrants are missing off the Tunisian coast after a ship headed for Italy capsized, authorities said on Thursday. Army and coastguard teams have lifted 570 people off the overcrowded vessel after it ran aground and capsized near Tunisia’s Kerkennah islands on Wednesday.
But between 200 and 270 were still missing after they tried to scramble aboard a flotilla of rescue boats, the TAP news agency said.
Authorities reported two dead bodies were recovered from the scene while seven injured people were taken to hospital in Sfax in southern Tunisia.
The coastguard said the vessel had been packed with refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Libya and was on its way to the Italian island of Lampedusa when it went aground.
It ran aground on a sandbank some 19 nautical miles (36 kilometres) off the coast of the islands, and then capsized as people struggled to leave the boat to jump into the rescue vessels, the agency reported.
Around 200 of those rescued were being taken to a refugee camp at Choucha in the south.
Once again Gates of Vienna’s tabulation of the numbers is confirmed by the Italian government and the MSM:
Italy says around 40,000 have arrived on its coasts since the start of the year.
This tracks well with the numbers I’ve been posting, a conservative estimate for which would now be around 39,000.
The UN says that 1,200 have drowned or are missing, but some NGOs place the number at over 1,400. Interestingly enough, the article states that “about 893,000 people have left Libya since the popular uprising began in February.” So only a small proportion of the refugees has made it across the Mediterranean. Most of them have fled to other African countries, especially Tunisia, where hundreds of thousands are stuck in the refugee camps.
I reported last night that more than four hundred illegal Egyptian immigrants had repatriated by Italy since January. The following article has revised the number slightly upwards:
23 Egyptians Repatriated, 434 Since January
(AGI) Rome — Twenty-three Egyptian nationals were repatriated overnight via a charter flight from Catania to Cairo after arriving in Marina di Pozzallo, Ragusa on 31 May, the Italian Ministry of the Interior said. Ministry sources said “the individuals were identified during routine interviews by the experts of the prevention, anti-crime and immigration police who are specially trained to disrupt human trafficking criminal organizations.” A total of 434 Egyptians have been returned to their homeland since the beginning of the year “shortly after arriving on the Italian coasts”.
Yesterday was a relatively good day for Italy — 150 arrivals, twenty-three departures, and 700+ who never made it across. Cultural enrichment is still advancing, but not quite as quickly as it did over the weekend.
Hat tips: AC, C. Cantoni, and Insubria.