Italian Coast Guard Searching for Missing Migrants After Finding Two Boats

migrant boat
French pleasure boat found the half-sunken boat and took 12 people aboard (Guardia Costiera)

Published Jun 17, 2024 4:26 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Italian Coast Guard confirms that it has search and rescue operations underway in the Mediterranean after two migrant boats were discovered. At least 64 people are believed missing from one of the sailboats while 11 were rescued and another one died shortly after the rescue. Ten additional bodies were recovered from the second boat while a private agency reported saving 51 people, some of which had to be cut from the wreckage.

The operation began late on Sunday, June 16, when a French pleasure boat sailing approximately 120 miles each of Calabria between Italy and Greece came across a half-sunken sailboat. They placed the rescue call and reported that they were able to recover 12 people. Reports are that the sailboat had been at sea for at least eight days since departing Turkey.

The Italian Coast Guard directed two merchant ships to respond to the area. It also dispatched an aircraft and two patrol boats from Calabria. The Coast Guard vessel Dattilo was also sailing to the area.

One of the merchant vessels initially took the 12 survivors aboard, reporting they were from Syria and Iraq. They were later transferred to one of the patrol boats which took the survivors to the port of Roccella Jonica. However, one of the individuals died shortly after being handed over to the medical teams in the port.



While the search was underway for as many as 64 people believed to be missing from the sailboat, the German aid group Resqship reports it located another vessel in distress to the south near Lampedusa. The NGO reports there were 61 people aboard a wooden boat that was also partially flooded. They were able to rescue a total of 51, including two people who were unconscious. They said some of the people had to be cut free with an axe.

The authorities are reporting that 10 additional bodies were removed from the flooded areas of the wooden boat.  The survivors were reported to be traveling from Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

This comes as Italy remains at odds with the NGOs working in the Mediterranean since enacting new laws in 2023 and frequent detentions of the rescue vessels. Reports are that the number of migrants being landed in Italy was cut by well over half to 23,725 people in 2024 compared to 53,902 in the same period of 2023.

The EU Coast Guard Frontex is also assisting in the search operation. They in the past have been critical of the organization of the operations and the rules under which it must work. The countries have to give permission and request the presence of Frontex for it to become involved.