According to the newspaper La Repubblica over 700 migrants have arrived in Sicily during the lockdown, over half in the first few days of May | Photo: Guardia di Finanza
According to the newspaper La Repubblica over 700 migrants have arrived in Sicily during the lockdown, over half in the first few days of May | Photo: Guardia di Finanza

Police and the authorities are scouring the coasts in Sicily on Wednesday after reports of another "ghost landing" of migrants came ashore on the south-western coast at Torre Salsa nature reserve. 29 people have so far been found but police suspect the boat contained "around 50".

According to Italian newspapers La Repubblica and La Sicilia, another so-called "ghost landing" arrived in the night of Tuesday, May 5, or the early hours of Wednesday morning. Authorities believe the boat probably came from Tunisia, reported La Repubblica. The numbers of arrivals from Tunisia had reportedly increased in recent weeks.

"Police are combing the beaches, country roads, and mountainous terrain between Siculiana and Montallegro" wrote La Repubblica in order to make sure that all those who were on board adhere to the 14-day quarantine rule and get tested. So far, the police have reported finding 29 people in the surrounding area.

Flying squad deployed to search for migrants

La Sicilia newspaper reported that Agrigento's flying squad had been deployed to join the search.

At the same time on the island of Lampedusa, also administratively part of Agrigento, 156 migrants were rescued by the Italian coast guard and finance police about five miles off shore. They were brought ashore at Favaloro and joined some 200 who were arrived at the weekend.

An Italian journalist at state broadcaster Rai News 24, retweeted by the organization Alarm Phone, posted on Twitter about the rescue:

'An emergency'

"If this is not an emergency, then tell me what is?" the mayor of Lampedusa Toto Martello asked La Repubblica. He said in La Sicilia that Lampedusa was "on its knees," after the strict lockdown imposed all over Italy which has brought the economy to a virtual halt.

Sicily depends for much of its income on tourism and, although Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has cautiously begun to relax the lockdown in what he called "phase two" of the measures, things are not back to functioning as normal.

Martello told reporters that more than 200 were waiting on the quayside where the authorities have set up tents to conduct coronavirus tests. 44 of the new arrivals were being hosted by a church community and 118 had been transferred to the local "hotspot" or reception center. Martello asked how he was supposed to cope with all these arrivals while still safeguarding the population of Lampedusa.

"I don't know who to turn to for help, or how to get things up and running again," Martello said in La Repubblica.

Arrivals increase in May

According to La Repubblica, there have been some 700 migrants arriving during the lockdown period, with more than half of those arriving in the first few days of May. Calm seas and good weather mean the authorities are expecting more arrivals soon.

Martello told reporters that the authorities had promised to send another ferry like the Rubattino, currently moored off Palermo, in which to host newly arrived migrants for their statutory 14-day period of quarantine. However, although they said it is on its way, Martello said he didn’t know when it would actually be in place.

The 156 migrants who were rescued about 10 miles off the coast of Lampedusa by the Italian coast guard consisted of about 127 people from Bangladesh, 6 Morrocans, 8 Pakistanis, 3 Egyptians, 6 Sudanese, 2 people from Guinea, 2 from Chad, 1 from Tunisia and 4 from Libya.

46 in distress in Maltese waters

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, the organization Alarm Phone was reporting that a boat carrying about 46 migrants was currently drifting in Maltese waters.

By Wednesday, Alarm Phone tweeted they had temporarily lost contact with the boat several times. During the lockdown, both Malta and Italy announced that their ports would remain closed.

 

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