Hundreds of migrants rescued from grounded boat off Sicily

Italy allows more than 300 others to leave boat in port

Hundreds of migrants have been rescued from a fishing boat that ran aground, Italy's coastguard said on Wednesday, while 300 more on a humanitarian ship were allowed to land.

The coastguard said the overnight rescue of 396 migrants was complicated by "critical and worsening sea conditions and the shallow water" where the boat ran aground off the port of Pozzallo, in south-eastern Sicily.

Video images showed the grounded fishing boat pitched to one side amid high waves and migrants being loading on to two port tugboats.

Meanwhile, after more than a week at sea, 306 migrants on the Ocean Viking humanitarian rescue boat operated by SOS Mediterranee were given approval to land in Sicily.

"Indescribable relief on the Ocean Viking," the association said on Twitter, after being told the ship could dock at the port of Augusta, on the island's east coast.

The charity's Claire Juchat earlier appealed for help in a video message from on board.

"We've just gone through a storm with over two metre waves," Ms Juchat said. "It's raining, the bridge is wet.

"Tonight the rescued have been soaked, frozen. We have to be disembarked as quickly as possible."

The boat rescued the migrants in four operations. It had been seeking a port to land the migrants since Sunday.

More than 57,000 migrants have landed in Italy since the start of the year, compared with about 30,000 in the same period last year, the Interior Ministry said.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 10:09 PM
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