The Latest: Migrants delayed by bad weather reach Malta
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on immigration into Europe (all times local):
A group of migrants who were stuck at sea in bad weather for five days have arrived in Malta after being transferred to a Maltese naval vessel from a humanitarian rescue ship.
The Maltese government said Sunday the 58 passengers would be relocated in coming days to four countries that agreed to accept a share: France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. Malta said it participated in the operation “for purely humanitarian reasons.”
The migrants were picked up more than a week ago by the sole private rescue ship still operating near the central Mediterranean Sea route from North Africa to southern Europe. A deal reached Sept. 25 called for Malta to bring them to port, but bad weather delayed the operation.
Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has saved 466 migrants attempting the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to European shores.
The service says its rescue craft pulled the migrants from 10 different boats intercepted in waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Over 300 people have died in waters separating Spain from the African coast so far this year, according to the United Nations, and over 1,600 have died in all trying to cross the Mediterranean.
A recent spike in migrant arrivals in Spain has put a strain on public services and pressure on the Spanish government, especially since Italy’s new hard-line interior minister has blocked humanitarian aid boats from docking in Italian ports with migrants rescued at sea.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says a boat carrying migrants has capsized off Turkey’s northern Aegean coast, killing at least five people.
The capsizing occurred as a rare and powerful Mediterranean storm is causing torrential rains in parts of Greece and Turkey.
The Anadolu Agency said the rubber boat capsized Sunday off the town of Enez in Edirne province. The town is not far from the northern Greek coastal town of Alexandroupolis.
It said it was not immediately clear how many migrants were on the boat and rescue crews were scouring the area for possible survivors or more bodies.
Although their numbers have decreased in recent years, migrants still try and cross into Greece from nearby Turkey in the hopes of making their way to other European countries.