Italian fishing boat rescues 103 migrants at sea

Rome – An Italian fishing trawler rescued 103 migrants including 21 women and a child on a boat that was taking on water Sunday, as officials said better weather at sea could bring a new wave of migrant arrivals.

The fishermen spotted the boat some 57 nautical miles (106 kilometres, 66 miles) south of Lampedusa – a tiny outcrop that is closer to the shores of North Africa than to the Italian mainland – and took the migrants on board.

Coast guard spokesman Filippo Marini told AFP the nationalities of the migrants or the country from which they set sail had not yet been determined.

“They have been taken to the migrant centre and are all in good health,” the coast guard said in a statement, adding that two of the women were pregnant.

Tens of thousands of people arrived in rickety boats on Lampedusa last year, including migrants fleeing the post-revolutionary economic turmoil in Tunisia and African migrant workers fleeing the escalating conflict in Libya.

On Saturday, 69 African migrant workers on board a rubber dinghy were intercepted by an Italian coast guard vessel and brought to Lampedusa.

Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri and International Cooperation and Integration Minister Andrea Riccardi visited Lampedusa on Friday, warning there could be a new wave of migrant arrivals due to the springtime weather.

The island’s only immigrant detention centre was set on fire by a group of Tunisians last September and is currently closed. New immigrant arrivals are being housed in temporary facilities including residences for tourists.

“We hope there won’t be a new immigration emergency but we have to be ready in case it catches us by surprise,” Riccardi said during his visit.

The ministers also visited Lampedusa cemetery to pay home to the hundreds of migrants killed in perilous Mediterranean crossings last year.

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