LAMPEDUSA. Journeys towards to Sicilian shores are not slowing down. 75 illegal immigrants have been saved from a boat that was in danger of sinking and taken to Lampedusa. Four of those aboard were women, one of whom was pregnant. They were taken aboard two coastguard patrol boats after having launched a request for assistance from a satellite telephone yesterday afternoon.
They were only about 50 miles off the Lybian coast when they claimed their boat was in danger of sinking because it was taking on water.
The SOS was received by Don Mosè Zerai, a priest who works with immigrants and asylum seekers. He passed the information onto the General Commander of the Port Authorities who was able to establish the coordinates of the vessel. Two of the coastguards patrol boats left from Lampedusa immediately, while an Italian navy ship was re-routed to the area (which had been located by the telephone operator) where the boat was. A further 3 units were also sent: the tugboat, Asso 25; the motorboat, Jolly grigio; and, the tanker Valpadana.
These vessels served to offer protection to the small boat which found itself in a 30 knot wind and rough sea (force 4-5) while it waited for the coastguard patrol boats to arrive. The patrol boats arrived at about midnight and took the migrants aboard and then headed for Lampedusa. The migrants, who claimed to have set sail from Lybia, were all of subSaharan origin. The group included four women, one of whom was pregnant.