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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Two migrant boats at sea for days now safe: rescue group

More than 1,200 migrants died last year trying to reach Europe [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 April, 2021

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On three boats in the Mediterranean monitored over their critical situation, only two were rescued on Saturday.

Two migrant boats on their third day at sea in the Mediterranean have been rescued, a migrant charity said on Saturday, although another 110 people on another boat were still unaccounted for.

Alarm Phone, a volunteer-run Mediterranean rescue hotline said late Saturday that two out of three boats it had previously signalled as being in a "critical" situation had been finally rescued. The boats were carrying approximately 160 people.

"We are glad to confirm that two of the three boats in distress were rescued to #Lampedusa after THREE DAYS of non-assistance," tweeted Alarm Phone, referring to the island off Italy's mainland.

It added, however, that the fate of the third boat southwest of Malta was unclear.

Late Friday, Alarm Phone signalled the presence of three boats carrying migrants that were within or near Malta and Italy's search-and-rescue zones.

The boats were spotted by aircraft of another humanitarian group, Sea-Watch, which appealed to two nearby merchant ships to rescue those on board.

On Saturday, however, Alarm Phone said Malta's armed forces and the Italian coast guard had refused to assist or coordinate rescue by passing merchant vessels - an account that could not immediately be verified.

Neither authority responded to requests for comment by telephone and email.

Alarm Phone warned that water was beginning to enter one boat while migrants on another boat had been without food or water for two days and were beginning to panic.

The group said it had lost contact with the third boat.

More than 1,200 migrants died last year trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Since January, about 300 migrants have died or gone missing during the dangerous journey, the UN agency said.

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