Italian coast guard rescues fishing boat with over 500 migrants on board


Over 500 migrants traveling from Libya in a fishing boat were rescued by the Italian coast guard on Saturday.

The 539 migrants were found just off of the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa when they were rescued by officials, the BBC reported.

A Doctors Without Borders physician reported that it looked like some of the migrants had been physically abused, according to the outlet. 

A local media report said that Italian officials were looking into whether the migrants may have been wrongfully put in prison while in Libya. 

Migrants traveling from Libya and Tunisia have often made the dangerous trek across waters to Europe, and the Italian island is considered one of the primary European ports that migrants access as they make their way to the continent. 

The migrants make the trek to flee conflict from their countries or in search of a better life.

Lampedusa Mayor Toto Martello called it “one of the biggest landings in recent times,” according to the BBC, which had previously seen 1,000 migrants arrive on the island at once over the course of just a few hours in May.

Earlier this month, nearly 400 Middle Eastern and south Asian migrants were rescued by two NGO boats just off the coast of Tunisia.

The migrants’ boat was dangerously overcapacity, according to a Reuters witness. The boat’s engine had stopped working and the boat was beginning to fill with water.

One humanitarian ship, Sea-Watch 3, took in 141 migrants while another ship, dubbed the Ocean Viking took the remaining 253 migrants.