24, November 2019
A crowded boat filled with migrants capsized in wind-whipped seas near a tiny Mediterranean island on Saturday, sending them tumbling into the water, said the Italian coastguard, which pulled 149 of them to safety.
There were fears at least two people or perhaps many more were missing.
The coastguard said the rescue, before sunset, involving four of its motorboats and two of its specialized rescue divers, took place about one nautical mile from the beach of Isola di Conigli, an uninhabited islet just off Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily.
It said those rescued, who included three children and 13 women, were brought to the port of Lampedusa, a vacation and fishing island.
At portside, two of those rescued, a Libyan and an Ethiopian, told authorities that their wives weren’t among them, prompting fears the two women were missing offshore, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
Later, ANSA said migrants told authorities that there were 169 passengers when their boat set out.
That meant as many as 20 migrants might be missing.
Rescue efforts were launched after a private citizen signaled that a 10-meter-long boat was foundering about a mile from Lampedusa, the coastguard said, adding that the distressed vessel had neither requested help nor signaled its position to the coastguard.
The coastguard said no bodies were spotted at sea during the rescue.
Risking their lives, migrants set out in unseaworthy boats launched by Libya-based human traffickers.