German rescue boat stuck in Mediterranean with 800 migrants

International

MILAN (AP) — A humanitarian rescue boat stuck in the Mediterranean Sea carrying 800 migrants received a delivery of food and blankets Saturday while it awaits permission to come to shore.

The German rescue boat Sea-Eye 4 set a course for the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday after picking up 400 migrants from a sinking wooden boat, doubling the number of people on board.

Even though they were just hours away from Italy’s southernmost island, officials at the charity Sea-Eye said Italy has not yet assigned the ship a safe port and that Malta shirked its responsibility by not responding to the wooden boat’s distress signal in its search and rescue area.

Half of those on board are minors, including children under 10 and five pregnant women, the charity said Saturday. Doctors on board are treating 25 people for hypothermia, sea sickness and high blood pressure, along with injuries that doctors say are consistent with torture administered during their escape.

“We must urgently point out that these people should be given medical treatment on land as soon as possible … There must be no standoff here,’’ said Dr. Christine Winkelmann, chair of German Doctors charity that also operates the Sea-Eye 4.

Supplies were brought by the Dresden, Germany-based charity Mission Lifeline, which said more than 200 cities and towns in German have signaled a willingness to take in migrants.

The number of migrants daring the dangerous central Mediterranean crossing is spiking dramatically this year to more than 54,000, but still far off those of 2014-2017, when 120,000-180,000 people reached Italy a year, often in rickety smugglers’ boats.

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