Dramatic footage shows Italian coastguard swimming to rescue 125 migrants after being shipwrecked in rough seas and stranded on rocky island
- Migrants stranded under cliff on small uninhabited island off Lampedusa Island
- Asylum seekers, including 49 women and children, found at dawn on Thursday
- Dramatic footage shows rescuers swimming to shore to rescue the migrants
- Coast Guard said operation complicated by rough seas and erratic reefs
More than 100 migrants have been rescued by the Italian coast guard after they washed up under rocky cliffs on a small uninhabited island in rough seas.
The 125 asylum seekers, including 49 women and 20 children, were discovered around dawn on Isola dei Conigli after one of their boats sank off Lampedusa.
Dramatic footage shows rescuers in wetsuits and snorkels swimming inflatable rafts to shore where waves crashed at the migrants’ feet.
The refugees were transported three at a time to a pair of waiting rescue vessels.
Dramatic footage shows a rescuer swimming with a raft to the coastguard ship off the island on Thursday morning
Desperate migrants cling to the inflatable raft as they are brought to safety in the rough seas off the coast of Lampedusa around dawn on Thursday.
Rescuers carefully load the migrants onto a small inflatable raft. The migrants were given metal blankets for warmth while they waited to be transported to some waiting boats
A coast guard officer swims the life raft to the rocky shore while a few lifeboats wait nearby
The migrants were taken to a pair of waiting rescue boats before being transferred to the port of Lampedusa, about two miles east.
The Coast Guard said the rescue attempt was hampered by choppy waters and the jagged reefs that surround the island.
In the end, all 125 were safely hoisted aboard the rescue craft, given protective drapes against the early morning chill, and taken to Lampedusa harbor, about 2 miles to the east.
The Coast Guard said in a statement that all migrants are in good health.
Lampedusa has a housing complex for migrants reaching the island after being rescued from unseaworthy boats launched by smugglers in Libya.
Sometimes fishing boats or dinghies full of migrants reach the island unaided after departing from the Tunisian coast.
Requests from many of the migrants for asylum are often rejected by Italy unless they can demonstrate that they are fleeing war and other conflict or persecution, and not poverty.
The migrants hope to reach relatives or get jobs in Europe.
Nearly 40,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from North Africa so far this year, according to the United Nations.
The crowd of migrants waits on the shore. One of the boats they used to cross from North Africa has sunk
According to the United Nations, 70,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta so far this year.
In total, nearly 70,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
About a quarter are Tunisian, 12.5 percent are Bangladeshi, 8.5 percent are Egyptian, 6.6 percent are Ivorian and 5.5 percent are Syrian.
An estimated 1,195 dead or missing.
This year’s arrivals are comparable to 95,031 migrants crossing the Mediterranean in 2020, 123,663 in 2019 and 141,472 in 2018.
These figures are dwarfed by the more than a million who crossed the border in 2015 at the height of the European migrant crisis.