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Sea Watch 4: Rescue ship carrying 455 migrants docks in Sicily

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FILE: The migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, carrying 47 migrants, comes into dock at the Sicilian port of Catania, southern Italy, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019
FILE: The migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, carrying 47 migrants, comes into dock at the Sicilian port of Catania, southern Italy, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019   -   Copyright  Salvatore Cavalli/AP
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A rescue vessel with 455 migrants on board docked in Sicily on Tuesday after it received permission from Italian authorities, the German NGO running the ship said.

"Disembarkation has started after the SeaWatch4 reached Trapani this morning," Sea-Watch NGO said on Twitter.

"The unaccompanied minors are the first to leave our ship after being tested for COVID-19 and will be transferred to a dedicated reception centre," it added.

A spokesperson for Sea-Watch said earlier the vessel rescued the migrants in several operations off the Libyan coast over the last weekend as they attempted to reach European shores.

The news comes as Europe faces criticism for often failing to rescue migrants at sea and outsource operations to the Libyan coast guard despite its limited capacity and poor human rights record.

Approximately 130 people hoping to reach Europe on a rubber boat are believed to have died between April 21 and April 22 as they waited in vain for someone to save them, roughly 45 kilometres from the Libyan coast.

It was the deadliest wreck so far this year in the Mediterranean Sea, where more than 20,000 migrants or asylum seekers have perished since 2014.