Italian coastguard rescues 300 migrants in rough seas

The Italian coastguard has rescued more than 300 young men and boys, most of them from Egypt, from a storm-battered fishing boat in rough seas off the southern mainland.

he rescue began on Saturday night and ended early on Sunday when the 303 migrants, soaked and shivering, stepped on to the port of Roccella Jonica in the Calabria region.

While most migrants seeking to reach Italy in the central Mediterranean depart from Libya or Tunisia, authorities say an increasing number of traffickers’ boats aiming for European shores are plying a route that begins in Turkey and ends at the southern tip of the Italian peninsula.

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The migrants were given space blankets to keep them warm on arrival in Roccella Jonica (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Those rescued from traffickers’ unseaworthy rubber dinghies and wooden boats that depart from North Africa are usually taken to Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island, or to ports in Sicily.

But those from Turkey are generally taken to Calabria or Puglia in the “heel” of the Italian mainland.

In Roccella Jonica, Red Cross volunteers handed the migrants plastic clogs, blankets, food and protective face masks as part of Covid-19 precautions.

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Many of the migrants arrived barefoot (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Authorities recently set up a tent structure to serve as temporary housing but it is only supposed to hold up to 120 people.

As of November 12, 57,833 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year.

In 2020, more than 31,000 arrived.

In 2019, when anti-migrant leader Matteo Salvini used his post as interior minister to try to thwart charity boats from disembarking people they rescued at sea, just under 10,000 arrived.

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