ROME: Italy’s coast guard reported Sunday that 30 people are missing and 17 were rescued after a boat leaving Libya encountered rough seas and sank in the central Mediterranean.


According to a statement released by the coast guard, rescue operations had begun with the help of merchant ships and aerial support from the European Union’s border agency Frontex.

Earlier on Sunday, the charity Mediterranea Saving Humans tweeted that, according to multiple sources, the vessel had capsized about 110 miles north-west of Benghazi while heading in the direction of Italy.

On Saturday, another charity that responds to calls from migrant boats, Alarm Phone, tweeted that it had contacted authorities, emphasizing the urgency of the situation because 47 people were on board.

The coast guard issued a statement saying that Libyan authorities had asked Rome for assistance after a rescue attempt by a merchant ship had failed due to bad weather.
The Italian capital then appealed to nearby merchant ships for assistance. Attempts were made to transfer the migrants onto the merchant ship “FROLAND” on Sunday morning, but the migrant vessel capsized.

Two of the survivors required medical attention, so the coast guard said they would be disembarked in Malta before the commercial ship continued on its way to Italy.

On Sunday, the Italian coast guard reported that the sinking happened beyond Italian SAR jurisdiction (SAR).
However, after a shipwreck on February 26 near the southern region of Calabria, in which at least 79 people perished, Rome’s ability to rescue migrants at sea has come under scrutiny.

More than 1,300 migrants were saved in three separate operations off the southern tip of Italy, and another 200 were rescued off the island of Sicily, the coast guard reported on Saturday.

There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving in Italy this year from both North Africa and Turkey, putting additional strain on the country’s conservative government, which took office in October on a promise to stem the flow.

By March 10th of this year, 17,600 people had entered Italy, a significant increase from the 6,000 who had done so by the same date in 2022. Hundreds more have perished while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.