SAVED: Spain rescues more than 400 migrants from 15 boats at weekend

SAVED: Rescued migrants on one of the rescue ships. Photo credit: Twitter / @salvamentogob

SPAIN’S maritime rescue service has said it rescued more than 440 migrants from 15 flimsy boats, mostly off the southern coast of the country at the weekend.

In their latest Tweet, Salvamento Maritimo said that one of their vessels has rescued 117 persons, including 34 women and five children from the Alboran sea and were being taken to Malaga port

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It is estimated that nearly 300 migrants have died in waters separating Spain and Africa so far in 2018, according to the United Nations, and over 1,600 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, the two humanitarian groups which operate Aquarius 2, the last private rescue vessel in the central Mediterranean said Panama had pulled the ship’s registration following Italian complaints.

The Panama Maritime Authority said it was acting after the “principal complaint came from Italian authorities” about the ship’s captain. It also noted that maritime authorities in Gibraltar over the summer took Aquarius 2 off its registry and had requested that it suspend its operations.

But Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, denied that allegation in a tweet last night (Sunday), saying “no pressure at all on Panama for the Aquarius 2. I don’t even know Panama’s area code.”

On Sunday, the two groups, SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), asked European governments to reassure Panama that Italy’s contentions are unfounded or issue a new flag so Aquarius 2 can keep operating.

Aquarius 2 is carrying 58 migrants it rescued in the last few days but where they will be taken is unclear.

International maritime law stipulates that those rescued at sea are taken to the nearest safe harbour.

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