Coast Guard rescue operations with two boats in distress off the Ionian Sea on April 10, 2023. | Photo: ANSA / Guardia Costiera
Coast Guard rescue operations with two boats in distress off the Ionian Sea on April 10, 2023. | Photo: ANSA / Guardia Costiera

Numerous boats carrying migrants across the central Mediterranean have resumed operations after a period of harsh weather conditions. Easter weekend left at least 38 dead and 18 missing, while over 3,200 people were rescued and disembarked in Italy.

Tragedies were observed over Easter weekend in the Mediterranean sea, where sightings of boats in distress have increased sharply over the past weeks.

Between Friday and Monday, at least 38 people drowned in two incidents at sea: one off the coast of Tunisia and one in Maltese search and rescue operations. Another 18 people remain missing.

During the same period, rescue workers saved the lives of about 2,000 people, while another 1,200 were rescued Monday in ongoing operations in the Ionian Sea between Sicily and Calabria.

Difficult rescues

Monday two rescue operations were the most complex of those conducted over the long weekend, but managed to save 1,200 people.

The Italian Coast Guard intervened to rescue two large boats: one fishing boat with 800 migrants onboard located over 120 miles southeast of Syracuse and another with 400 onboard in the Italian search and rescue area southeast of Capo Passero.

The rescue operations southeast of Syracuse were coordinated by Italy's Nave Peluso vessel, along with the support of three patrol boats and a nearby mercantile ship.

The intervention, conducted southeast of Capo Passero, was managed by two mercantile units.

Coast Guard and Frontex aircraft also assisted.

Tragedies at sea

After a pause due to bad weather conditions, migrant boats have resumed journeys to the Italian coast, as evinced by over 40 small vessels that arrived in only three days, carrying a total of almost 2,000 people.

Among them were survivors of a shipwreck in Maltese waters that led to the death of at least 18 migrants that are, for the time being, officially considered "missing at sea", witnesses said.

Another 35 people lost their lives on Saturday after a shipwreck off the coast of Tunisia.

A total of 15 people were rescued.

The corpse of a Nigerian man was found on a seven-meter-long boat rescued by the Coast Guard Sunday off Lampedusa. Two other corpses were also recovered at sea and transported to Lampedusa by the NGO Resqship, along with 22 survivors.

Another two boats carrying a total of 43 migrants were stopped by the Tunis Coast Guard off the coasts of Monastir and Nabeul.

Lampedusa reception facilities suffer overcrowding

The arrival of such a large number of migrants over only a few days has led to severe overcrowding at the island's reception center.

Reception facilities in Lampedusa were, as of Monday, hosting about 1,800 people, four times the maximum capacity.


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