Rome, Mar 12 (EFE).- A total of 30 migrants are missing, but another 17 were able to be saved, after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea during rescue efforts by a merchant vessel, the Italian Coast Guard reported, emphasizing that the boat was in the Libyan rescue zone.
The search operation for the missing is being undertaken with the help of merchant vessels and two planes belonging to Frontex, the European border control agency, Italian authorities added.
Alarm Phone, a network of activists who receive calls from boats that encounter difficulties in the central Mediterranean, complained about the ship’s sinking and accused Italian authorities of not intervening despite having been informed of the presence of the migrants’ boat on Saturday night.
According to the reconstruction of the incident by the Italian Coast Guard, the boat was in the Libyan Search and Rescue zone, although they emphasized that the other National Coordination and Marine Rescue Centers of Libya and Malta responsible for policing the area were “inactive.”
They explained that the merchant vessel Basilis L reported that it had the migrants’ drifting boat in sight and that when it tried to rescue the migrants problems developed due to adverse weather conditions and, moreover, Libyan authorities, who were responsible for search and rescue activities in that area, due to the lack of available naval assets asked for help in accord with international treaties from Italian authorities.
Italy’s maritime rescue authorities immediately dispatched an emergency message via satellite to all vessels in transit in the area.
This sinking comes after another tragedy off the coast of the southern Italina region of Calabria in which at least 79 illegal migrants drowned and into which an investigation has been launched to determine potential responsibility by the Italian Coast Guard, which did not intervene in that matter despite the fact that Frontex had reported the existence of the endangered fishing boat.
The Mediterranean area’s Saving Humans non-governmental organization criticized the fact that just a few days after the Calabria tragedy another case had cropped up where people’s lives were endangered on the high seas but Italian authorities had provided no assistance.
Over the past five days, about 4,000 illegal migrants have arrived at various points along the Italian coast and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, in a radio interview, said that “the situation is concerning. Europe should take notice.”
Since the beginning of this year, 17,592 illegal migrants have arrived on the Italian coast, triple the 5,976 who arrived during the same period last year.