The migrant hotspot of Lampedusa is on the verge of collapse after at least 460 people arrived on the Italian island in less than 24 hours. Several hundred migrants were to be tested for COVID-19 and transferred to a quarantine ship.
A total of 27 boats carrying at least 460 mostly Tunisian migrants have arrived so far this week on Lampedusa, the Italian island south of Sicily that is designated as a migrant hotspot. The Lampedusa facility, which has room for only 95 people, now hosts more than 1,350 migrants.
On Tuesday morning, the empty quarantine ship "Allegra" arrived on the island. The Agrigento prefecture in Sicily plans to transfer 500 migrants to the "Allegra" -- its full capacity.
Before boarding the ship, the migrants were to undergo identification procedures including photographs, as well as a rapid COVID-19 test.
On Tuesday, 16 boat landings were recorded on Lampedusa, in addition to the 11 boats that arrived on Monday.
At least 460 arrivals
The first of the 27 boats arrived on Lampedusa just before midnight on Monday (November 2), with 78 migrants of various nationalities on board. A port authority vessel rescued the migrant boat 2.5 miles off the coast.
An hour later, a boat with 15 Tunisians arrived, which the coast guard had rescued seven miles off the coast. Then, before 2.30 a.m., a police patrol vessel four miles off the coast intercepted a boat with 14 Tunisians on board, including a minor.
Meanwhile, the Lampedusa Carabinieri police discovered 16 Tunisians, including a minor, near the Madonnina pier. The boat they used to arrive was not found.
More arrivals on Tuesday
The arrivals continued in the morning of Tuesday (November 3). At 4 a.m., a boat arrived with 64 Tunisians on board, followed moments later by six other Tunisians who had been rescued at sea and brought ashore.
At sunrise, a police patrol boat brought 94 migrants to the Favaloro pier. They had been rescued three miles off the southern coast of Lampedusa. Police seized their boat.
Another boat with 91 Tunisians on board was later found about two miles off the island's southern coast.
The 94 migrants were transferred to a port authority patrol boat, leaving the boat they were traveling on adrift. While these operations were underway, 82 migrants docked at Cala Pisana beach after managing to land with a 10-meter rubber dinghy.
The numbers were similar to those last summer, when there was a surge in migrant arrivals to Lampedusa.
On the island of Sicily, migrant landings also continued in the afternoon on Tuesday, reaching a total of 16 for the day.