Italy and Malta are locked in a standoff over which should receive 140 illegal immigrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
They are on board a Turkish cargo ship that found them drifting in two boats 80 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampudusa. Italy insists the ship should be taken to Malta which is responsible for search and rescue in the central Mediterranean. Malta insists under international conventions the migrants should be landed at the nearest safe point — in this case Lampedusa. On Friday up to 300 illegal immigrants arrived in Sicily after their boat was escorted there by the Italian coastguard. Italy and Malta are having to cope with waves of migrants from north Africa.