ROME – Hundreds of migrants have arrived by boat in the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
A large boat carried 686 people to the island overnight, local authorities said, while another 67 people later reached port on smaller vessels after being rescued by police.
The ministry said the migrants will now be moved to another vessel for COVID-19 quarantine.
Lampedusa is one of the main landing points for people trying to get into Europe and Italy has repeatedly urged other states to cooperate in order to better handle the issue.
“International judicial cooperation is fundamental to contain irregular immigration and stem the unprecedented violence and tragic violations of the most basic human rights of the migrants,” Luigi Patronaggio, chief prosecutor in the southern Sicilian city of Agrigento, told local media.
Around 44,800 migrants landed on Italy’s coasts from the start of 2021 to Sept. 27, up from 23,517 in the same period last year, interior ministry data shows.
Overall numbers are still down from 2015, when hundreds of thousands of migrants made the perilous sea crossing to Europe, many fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.