A migrants' boat arrives in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO
A migrants' boat arrives in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

The mayor of Lampedusa has denounced that the island's port has become a "floating cemetery" of boats used by migrants to reach Italy's coast, accusing national authorities of failing to solve a problem that is damaging the environment.

Totò Martello, the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, denounced on November 29 that abandoned migrant boats have seriously damaged the port after a storm.

"A strong storm pummeled the island of Lampedusa, causing what we feared would happen and have repeatedly denounced: migrant boats, which have been shamefully left by authorities at the pier Favarolo, with the south-west wind became like 'loose cannons', causing serious damage inside the port, to the docked boats, and posing a risk to people who were there to secure their boats and fishing vessels," Martello said.

"In addition, there is also the environmental damage, with all types of residues in our water, seabed and beaches," the mayor noted.

'It's not the migrants' fault'

The mayor said that the situation has become "unacceptable", stressing however that it's not the migrants' fault.

"The fault belongs to those who should quickly dispose of the boats once they reach Lampedusa, starting with the customs agency that is in charge of keeping the vessels once they are seized after the landings," he stressed.

"Over the past few months, I had repeatedly raised the issue and, thanks to the interior ministry, emergency action had been activated to remove and dispose of the boats. But then the landings continued while the removal was once again halted and the pier Favarolo became a 'floating cemetery' of boats," he added.

"I don't want to watch this environmental disaster unfold anymore: if competent authorities will not intervene immediately to secure once again the port area and clear our the water, beaches and seabed, and if a mechanism is not put in place to automatically and constantly dispose of the migrant boats once they reach the island, I will issue an order so the municipal administration can directly act to guarantee the safety of citizens, infrastructures and our sea."

Martello concluded saying that "at the same time, our municipal administration will ask the customs agency and environment ministry to pay for the damages caused by their unacceptable inaction."


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