116 migrants rescued by the AFM
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116 migrants rescued by the AFM

Italy refuses to take part in rescue

Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas

 

A group of 116 immigrants was rescued by two Armed Forces of Malta patrol vessels early this morning.

They were picked up from a drifting boat 45 nautical miles south-west of Malta and and 47 NM east of Lampedusa.

The Italian authorities informed Malta rescue centre that they would not be sending any of their assets to assist in the situation, since the migrants' boat was located closer to Malta, than to Lampedusa, the AFM said.

The 50-foot wooden boat, laden with Chadian and Somali migrants, had stopped without fuel and with an engine fault. A dead woman was also on board. The body has now been taken to the morgue.

Another six immigrants have been taken to Mater Dei since they required immediate hospital treatment and the others looked extremely week.

Sources said it was very likely that these immigrants have spent more than a week at sea.

The boat's presence was reported at around 9.15 p.m. yesterday by an Italian fishing-boat. The migrants were burning clothes to attract attention.

Patrol boats P-24 and P-51 patrol vessels were diverted to the location to render assistance.

The migrants consisted of 94 men, 18 women, a three-year-old boy and three babies.

A dead 29-year old woman was also on board.

More than 1,000 migrants were rescued and brought to Malta over the past two weeks.

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