In Pictures: Migrants leave Ocean Viking ship in Italy's Sicily

6 months ago 38
google news

Nearly 200 migrants rescued by a humanitarian aid boat in the Mediterranean Sea began to leave the vessel in Sicily late on Monday after nine days stuck on the ship.

The migrants, walking in single file and carrying backpacks, regained dry land at Porto Empedocle on the Italian island's western coast.

Police escorted them a short distance to another vessel, where they will be quarantined to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus.

The arrival of the boat chartered by charity group SOS Mediterranee capped a tense few days on board marked by migrants jumping overboard, a suicide attempt and bouts of violence.

After being rescued in four separate operations on June 25 and 30, the migrants waiting on the ship became increasingly agitated, according to SOS Mediterranee, as the charity awaited the go-ahead from either Italy or Malta to dock at a safe port.

However, approval did not arrive until Sunday, after the group declared a state of emergency on board, adding it could no longer guarantee the safety of the migrants or crew.

Rising tension culminated in fights between migrants frustrated by the long waiting period and their inability to call their families to let them know they were safe.

One migrant tried to hang himself and two others threw themselves overboard, the charity said.

However, the group was overjoyed when they finally saw the safe port.

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