The Italian Red Cross says more than 5,000 people in more than 100 migrant boats arrived on the island of Lampedusa in one day, with smugglers in north Africa taking advantage of calm seas to set off.
At least one baby died near shore as a boat capsized, state radio said.
Dozens of new arrivals crouched on the rocky jetties of Lampedusa’s port, while others sheltered in the shade of a nearby camping ground as the island’s lone migrant welcome center, which has a capacity of around 400, overflowed with more than 6,000 people.
“Days ago there were more than 4,000 people and we were talking about a record, today we are talking about a record of landings,” the Red Cross’ national director Rosario Valastro says in a social media post.
A Lampedusa non c'è da fare una gara sul record di sbarchi. Giorni fa c'erano oltre 4mila persone e si parlava di…
The Red Cross is urging the Italian government to quickly transfer the migrants to the mainland, saying their personnel had managed to keep the situation under control but that the disembarkation from more than 100 boats was pushing the limit.
Medical personnel were focusing attention on the most fragile, but the group is warning that maintaining adequate humanitarian conditions was dependent on keeping the numbers below a critical threshold.
So far this year, more than 115,000 people have arrived by boat, nearly double the 63,000 in the same period last year or the 41,000 in 2021, according to interior ministry statistics.