Dramatic footage shows Italian coastguards swimming to rescue 125 migrants after they are shipwrecked in rough seas and stranded on a rocky island
- Migrants stranded under a cliff on a small uninhabited islet off the island of Lampedusa
- Asylum seekers, including 49 women and children, found at dawn on Thursday
- Dramatic footage shows lifeguards swimming to shore to save the migrants
- Coastguards said the operation was made difficult by rough seas and jagged reefs
More than 100 migrants were rescued by the Italian coastguard after being stranded under rocky cliffs on a small uninhabited island in rough seas.
The 125 asylum seekers, including 49 women and 20 children, were discovered around dawn on Isola dei Conigli after one of their boats sank off Lampedusa.
Dramatic footage showed rescuers in wetsuits and snorkels swimming in inflatable rafts to shore where waves crashed at the feet of migrants.
The refugees were transported three by three to a pair of waiting rescue boats.
Dramatic footage shows a lifeguard swimming with a raft towards the coastguard vessel off the island on Thursday morning
Desperate migrants cling to the inflatable raft as they are transported to safety in rough seas off Lampedusa towards dawn on Thursday
Rescuers carefully load the migrants onto a small inflatable raft. Migrants were given metal blankets to warm themselves as they waited to be transported to a pair of waiting boats
A Coast Guard officer swims the life raft up the rocky shore as a pair of lifeboats wait nearby
The migrants were taken to a pair of waiting rescue ships before being transported to the port of Lampedusa about two miles to the east
The Coast Guard said the rescue effort was complicated by the rough waters and jagged reefs surrounding the islet.
Eventually, all 125 were safely hoisted aboard the rescue vessels, fitted with protective covers against the early morning cold, and taken to the port of Lampedusa about 2 miles to the east.
The coast guard said in a statement that all migrants were in good health.
Lampedusa has a housing complex for migrants who reach the island after being rescued from dilapidated boats launched by Libya-based smugglers.
Sometimes fishing boats or inflatable boats crowded with migrants reach the island unaided after leaving the Tunisian coast.
The asylum claims of many migrants are often refused by Italy unless they can prove that they are fleeing war and other conflicts or persecution, and not poverty.
Migrants hope to join relatives or get a job in Europe.
Nearly 40,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from North Africa so far this year, according to the United Nations.
The crowd of migrants waiting on the shore. One of the boats they used to cross from North Africa sank
So far this year, 70,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, according to the United Nations.
In total, nearly 70,000 have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
About a quarter are Tunisians, 12.5% ââare Bangladeshi, 8.5% are Egyptian, 6.6% are Ivorian and 5.5% are Syrians.
An estimated 1,195 are dead or missing.
This year’s arrivals compare with 95,031 migrants crossing the Mediterranean in 2020, 123,663 in 2019 and 141,472 in 2018.
These numbers are eclipsed by the more than one million who crossed in 2015 at the height of the European migration crisis.