Update 3 | Rescued asylum seekers heading to Italy

Malta legally obliged to bring in asylum seekers rescued in its search and rescue region

Photo: Armed Forces of Malta
Photo: Armed Forces of Malta

A group of 83 asylum seekers were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta and a merchant vessel last night.

However, 78 of the rescued group refused to be taken to Malta, insisting that they wanted to go to Italy. Sources confirmed that the Italian authorities agreed to take in the asylum seekers.

Having been rescued in Malta’s search and rescue region after their boat started taking in water east of the island, Malta was legally obliged to take in the asylum seekers. But following the group's request, contact was made with the Italian authorities in order to seek a solution. It was confirmed in the evening that Italy would take them in.

The group reportedly refused to take food and water provided by the AFM.

Five of the group were transferred on board the AFM vessel, P52, and disembarked in Malta early in the morning. The remaining 78 had insisted on remaining on board the merchant vessel, which at one point was heading towards Malta.

The AFM said the merchant vessel, TYCHY, was directed by Malta’s Rescue and Coordination Centre to provide first assistance, pending the arrival of the P52.

“They are all in good health and currently on board the merchant vessel,” the Maltese army said.

The five persons disembarked at Hay Wharf early this morning at 6.30am.