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Friday, June 9, 2023

Boat with 422 migrants, some with COVID-19, heads to Sicily

by A.P.

ROME — A rescue ship with 422 migrants aboard, a small number of whom tested positive for COVID-19, was headed to a port in Sicily on Sunday.

SOS Mediterranee, the humanitarian group which operates the rescue ship Ocean Viking, told The Associated Press that Italy had granted the vessel permission to enter the port of Augusta, where it was expected to arrive Sunday evening, just as as rain and strong winds were forecast.

The migrants were rescued in separate operations in the central Mediterranean Sea on Thursday and Friday, including 121 who were crowded into a rubber dinghy. Some of the passengers fell into the sea during that rescue operation but were brought to safety, SOS Mediterranee said in a statement by Luisa Albera, search and rescue coordinator aboard the Ocean Viking.

In all, four distinct rescue operations were carried out over two days. Many of those rescued are women and children.Originally, a total of 424 were rescued, but a pregnant woman and her companion were evacuated urgently by helicopter to Malta on Saturday, the statement said.

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