Were rescue efforts hampered by Italy’s immigration laws?
Amid speculation that some migrants were left to drown because local fishermen feared breaking the law by rescuing survivors and bringing them ashore, it is being claimed that more could have been done, had it not been for Italian legislation.
Local resident Vito Fiorini said he was first at the scene and did what he could.
“We were the idiots who pulled 47 people on board our boat. We would have saved more” he claimed saying that the coastguard would not let him hand over those rescued – allowing him to save more – because it was against protocol. “I don’t know if you know what it is like to see what I saw: a sea filled with people, people calling for help.”
There have been other migrant tragedies off the tiny island in the past and the fact that wrecks still lie underwater also poses problems for Lampedusa’s fishermen.
“The authorities…leave the boats in the sea,” said local fisherman Salvatore D’Ancona. “I have been doing this job for 20 years. Now I can’t work any longer because of these wrecks. Each time I throw my fishing nets in I bring them up with 500 or 1,000 euros of damage.”
Italian immigration rules have led to the seizing of fishing boats that have saved migrants’ lives. One fisherman put his view this way, saying “This immigration law is killing people.”