The Italian coastguard rescued 45 migrants at the weekend after their boat capsized off the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. A search for several migrants reportedly still missing continued on Sunday.
In a statement released on Saturday evening, the Italian coastguard said that "at this stage 45 migrants in total, all of them men, have been rescued at Lampedusa."
"The search is ongoing to find those potentially missing with two coastguard vessels, with aerial support from a helicopter," the statement added.
According to the coastguard, the migrants were being transferred to the Italian vessels when the boat capsized. Italian authorities tossed life vests into the water and helped the migrants get aboard.
Some other sources reported that 47 migrants in total had been rescued.
Five still missing
Survivors said that five individuals were missing from the original number of migrants who had been on board the boat about 15 miles south of the island, close to Tunisia. Italian state radio also reported that five people were possibly missing but that there was no official confirmation, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Alarm Phone, the Mediterranean hotline for migrants in distress, said that it had received a call from the boat last week. It reported that seven people were still missing.
On Sunday, ANSA reported that a search for the missing migrants had resumed at dawn. Officials did not specify where the migrants had come from.
The rescue operation had followed "an especially intense day, as a large number of vessels carrying migrants was reported" on Friday, the coastguard said.
The Italian interior ministry reported that 1,892 migrants had arrived in Italy by sea since the start of February, bringing the total number of sea arrivals between January 1 and February 19, 2021 to 2,931.
With AFP, AP, ANSA