Abandoned Migrant Ship Arrives in Italy


A ship carrying 360 migrants that was abandoned by its crew has arrived in the Italian port of Carigliano Calabro, according to the coastguard.  This follows rescuers boarding the ship, called the Ezadeen, when a passenger raised the alarm as the ship cross the Mediterranean.

The ship was sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone and lost power off the south-east coast of Italy during rough seas.

This is the second ship in a week to be found in a similar situation after a ship carrying 796 migrants was found without a crew earlier this week.  The Blue Sky M was left on autopilot by its crew, believed to be people traffickers.  It was brought under control and safely docked at the Italian port of Gallipoli on Wednesday.


The coastguard commander, Francesco Perrotti, said that the migrants on board the ship were from Syria.  They said they were being taken around Italy when they arrived by bus and were in relatively good condition after their three-day ordeal at sea.

The arrival follows the ship being towed by an Icelandic ship that was worked as part of the EU Frontex border control mission, the coastguard added.  The 240-foot ship is thought to have set sail from Turkey, though some earlier reports had said it had sailed from Cyprus.

A spokesperson from Frontex, Izabella Cooper, said that the migrants had fallen victims to smugglers who were using different routes other than the one normally used through Libya.  She added that they were currently witnessing the opening of new migratory routes that involved smugglers buying up scrap cargo vessels and leaving from Turkey.


The alarm was initially raised when one of the migrants used a maritime radio on the ship to call for help and told the Italian coastguard that they were heading towards the Italian coast with no-one on board to steer the ship.

The Ezadeen was built as a livestock carrier and is around 50 years old.  Its registry appears to be to a Lebanese company.  This type of ship is now becoming a common part of the plight of hundreds of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean every day to reach Europe.  Last year, estimates say that 3,500 refugees died during their attempts while another 200,000 were rescued by various agencies.

The International Organisation for Migration believes that half of those trying to make the crossing come from either Syria or Eritrea.  The smugglers involved make a lucrative living from the misery and fear of these people with migrants paying anything from $600 to $6000 for passage.

The use of larger ships such as the Ezadeen is believed to be a seasonal tactic to be able to transport migrants in the winter despite the weather conditions and allows the smugglers to maintain their profit margins all year round.

Two other ships were found abandoned during the week that had departed from Turkey and could show the start of a new route being used by the smugglers, as opposed to the frequently used North Africa coastal route.


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