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Italian Coastguard

Mother And Child Die, Dozens Missing As Migrant Ships Sink Near Italian Coast

A mother and child have died, and dozens are missing after two ships carrying migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The Italian coastguard said on Sunday it had recovered two bodies and rescued 57 people when the vessel sank on Saturday.

According to Italy’s Ansa news agency, it identified the pair as an Ivory Coast mother and one-year-old child.

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The news agency said survivors were picked up 46 kilometres southwest of Lampedusa.

A total of 34 migrants were also rescued from a Lampedusa cliff late on Friday following a separate Lampedusa shipwreck.

On Sunday, firefighters and mountain rescue teams were preparing to save 20 migrants stranded on a rocky part of Lampedusa’s coastline.

The migrants had been trapped there since late Friday when their boats were pushed against the rocks by strong winds.

According to local news website Agrigento Oggi, Provincial police chief Emanuele Ricifari said, “it is a crazy criminal with no scruples” for whoever allowed the migrants to sail in such bad weather.

Italy is experiencing a surge in sea migration, with Italian patrol boats and charity groups rescuing another 2,000 people who arrived on the island recently.

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The Italian Interior ministry said migration figures by sea had doubled this year to 92,000, compared with 42,600 recorded in the same period last year.

The Red Cross has provided some of the migrants with food, water, clothes, and emergency thermal blankets.

However, the coastguard said critical weather conditions and the poor quality of the boats continue to put a burden on the rescue operations.

In some cases, the engines are stolen from the boats at sea so that traffickers can rescue them.

“Rough seas are forecast for the next few days. Let’s hope they stop. It’s sending them to slaughter with this sea,” Mr. Ricifari said.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said the actual figures were likely to be much higher.

IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said, “Lots of bodies are being found at sea, suggesting there are many shipwrecks we never hear about.”

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