Update 2 | Rescued migrants to dock at Syracuse, Italy

A boat carrying 43 migrants fleeing Libya has been rescued this morning by an Italian warship in an operation coordinated by Malta.

(File photo) While 41 migrants remain on board the Italian warship, it remains unknown whether Malta or Italy will take the migrants.
(File photo) While 41 migrants remain on board the Italian warship, it remains unknown whether Malta or Italy will take the migrants.

The boat carrying 44 asylum seekers save at sea will dock at Augusta port, Syracuse in Sicily after Italy first declared that Lampedusa was not a place of safety for disembarkation of migrants. The migrants were rescued at sea on Wednesday afternoon when the boat was reported inside the Maltese seach and rescue region, the Armed Forces of Malta said.

A group of 44 migrants, reported earlier on Tuesday to the Italian rescue authorities as adrift at sea in the central Mediterranean, have been located and were yesterday night taken onboard the Italian Navy’s vessel ‘’Foscari’’ at 9:19pm, during a search-and-rescue (SAR) operation coordinated by Malta.
 
The initial report on the migrants’ boat was received by Palermo Radio, which indicated them as in distress in a position approximately 135 nautical miles to the south west of Malta, within the Libyan search and rescue region of responsibility.
 
Malta’s Rescue and Coordination Centre (RCC Malta) at the Armed Forces of Malta’s Operations Centre, Luqa Barracks, immediately issued a Navtex warning message and broadcast a PAN PAN voice message to all shipping in the area, alerting navigation in the area of the migrants’ predicament.

RCC Malta also successfully established contact the migrants themselves onboard the boat via satellite phone and determined their general condition and the local weather state in their area.
 
Simultaneously, RCC Malta kept constant contact with the Italian authorities at MRCC Rome who were initially coordinating the SAR efforts, as well as with MRCC Tunis and NATO in Naples, so as to enquire whether any of their respective assets were in the area.

MRCC Tunis deployed a patrol craft and a Tunisian flagged tug-boat to proceed towards the migrants’ last reported position. Both vessels conducted a search in the area, but with negative results.A total of two successive searches were conducted in the late afternoon and at night as well by the AFM Air Wing’s KingAir maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), covering a total area of 2,9252 NM, with negative results.
 
On Thursday morning, the AFM’s KingAir MPA again conducted a search in Maltese search and rescue area, south of Lampedusa covering a total area of 4,2482 NM, with negative results. Neither a Frontex aircraft, assigned to the same mission, was successful. At this stage, MRCC Rome expressed the opinion that the migrants may have been recovered by a fishing vessel.
 
Yesterday evening, MRCC Rome informed the AFM that the migrants had been sighted by an Italian fishing vessel in a position 125 NM south west of Malta, and 56 NM south of Lampedusa, towards which an Italian Navy vessel which was a 4NM away, was redirected.
 
By 9pm, the migrants’ rubber boat was sighted and moving by the warship “Foscari”. The migrants were taken onboard the Italian naval vessel. Some 43 migrants were rescued in total, made up of 29 males, 15 women, 2 young children and an infant, all of whom were of sub-Saharan origin. A rescued woman and her baby were medically evacuated by a helicopter to Lampedusa.

While 41 migrants remain on board the Italian warship, it remains unknown whether Malta or Italy will take the migrants.

MaltaToday is informed that the Italian authorities have already requested to bring the migrants to Malta.

Late yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed deep concern for the fate the migrants.

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When the Italian Government declared the port of Lampedusa as an unsafe port, he also said that immigrants rescued in Lampedusa territorial waters,will be taken to the mainland (Italy).
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Here we go agian! what if now? who will carry the burden of cost? I wish if some one explains... Tony
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It is amazing how many pose as defender of rightousness as long as there is oil involved but when it comes to humans all morality disappears down the gutter.
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First we had migrants running away from Gaddafi now I think we are going to have migrants running away from the NTC.May be if it is a racket it is business as usual.
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NO thank you Berlu. We don't want them. You can keep them as souvenirs.
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Fabian Psaila
No thank you!
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Thank God that these poor souls were found safe and did not drown. I think that what the UNCHR should be doing is encouraging people to stay put and apply legally to leave the North Africa cooast. by not discouraging such action that are illegal, the UNCHR is not doing it's duty to protect innocent lives, especially children and babies. In life, people have to go to the legal methods of doing something. When someone does something illegally, they will always feel that they above the law and the UNCHR is encouraging such actions
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As a Maltese citizen I excercise my vote...NO Italy deal with it, it's your f***en pigeon!