Rome, May 7 (EFE).- More than 1,300 migrants arrived on Lampedusa between Saturday and Sunday, further overcrowding the reception center on the tiny Italian island in the central Mediterranean.
Several people there are currently being transferred to Porto Empedocle in Sicily because the latest wave of migrants trying to reach Europe has left the reception center operating well beyond its capacity of 400.
During the early hours of Sunday, when five boats landed in Lampedusa with a total of 338 people on board, the Italian Port Authority moved some 349 migrants to shelters in Syracuse, Agrigento and Catania.
Further away from the coast, ships operated by NGOs continued to rescue distressed boats that have failed to reach the main port.
The rescue ship of the German aid group Resqship saved 130 migrants on an overcrowded boat on Sunday morning after receiving an alert from Alarm Phone, a hotline service for distressed migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
“The people had already been drifting in the open sea for 3 days and the engine was no longer working. Due to the high waves and the different deck, the situation became more and more dangerous and people panicked,” Resqship wrote on Twitter.
Good weather and improved sailing conditions have encouraged more ships to set sail from North Africa, weeks after Lampedusa registered a record 3,000 arrivals in just 48 hours in mid-April.
Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government later declared a six-month national state of emergency, which enables Rome to speed up migrant repatriations, among other powers.
A total of 40,856 migrants arrived in Italy in the first four months of 2023, compared to 10,188 in the whole of last year, according to official figures from the Italian interior ministry. EFE