1,200 boat migrants expected in Italy

DPA Rome | Updated on June 10, 2014 Published on June 10, 2014

More than 1,200 boat migrants rescued from the Mediterranean were due to land on Italian shores on Tuesday, forcing authorities to scramble to expand reception facilities for them.

An Italian navy vessel was taking 1,027 people to Taranto, a port in Apulia, the region that forms the heel of Italy’s boot.

A Maltese cargo ship was expected to disembark 209 people in Pozzallo, Sicily, while about 20 migrants arrived on their own to Sardinia.

Meanwhile, police identified and arrested the suspected skippers of two dinghies that lost some of their passengers during chaotic rescue operations during the weekend. Three migrants drowned as one dinghy capsized while six others drifted in the sea and are missing.

Italy is facing a record inflow of migrants sailing off from North Africa. Many of them are refugees from war-torn Syria.

Italian officials say that more than 50,000 migrants have entered the country by sea since January 1, compared to less than 43,000 during the entire course of 2013. On Monday, more than 2,600 people were taken to Taranto and several Sicilian ports.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano was meeting on Tuesday the head of the national association of Italian municipalities, Turin Mayor Piero Fassino, following Fassino’s complaint that Sicilian towns could no longer handle the inflow of incoming migrants.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right Northern League, said towns administered by his party would refuse to help out in the crisis.

“Any municipality where there is a League mayor is not prepared to welcome or spend a single euro cent” for migrants, he said.

Published on June 10, 2014

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