500 Syrian Migrants Rescued off the Coast of Italy + Video

Tue Sep 30, 2014 19:07:22

Some 500 Syrian migrants are being escorted to the Italian shore after being spotted on a merchant ship at sea.

Five hundred migrants, who say they come from Syria, were rescued off the coast of Italy on Sunday (September 28) after the merchant ship they were onboard was spotted by the Italian coast guard.

The migrants, among them women and children, were contacted some 90 miles southeast of the southern mainland town of Crotone. The boat was towed until it reached 10 miles off the coast. Soldiers were then transferred onboard in order to safely steer the merchant vessel into port.

Several migrants, including children, were transferred at this stage onto coast guard vessels in order to check their medical condition.

Italy's navy has been patrolling the waters between Africa and Sicily since October 2013, when 366 people drowned after their boat capsized just a mile from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

That prompted the launch of the "Mare Nostrum" or "Our Sea" search and rescue mission which has been costing Italy 9 million euros a month. But Italy has repeatedly called for Europe's border control agency Frontex to take over Mare Nostrum and for other member states to share the burden.

Frontex Plus will be launched in November as the EU prepares to take over the burden from Italy.


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