A group of 27 migrants have reportedly been rescued by two commercial vessels and are on their way to Malta, sea rescue NGO Alarm Phone told Times of Malta

A spokesperson for the NGO said that two commercial vessels, crude oil tanker NS Lion and bulk carrier Seastar Victory, were reportedly ordered to pick up a group of 27 people who sent a distress call. 

Alarm Phone said it is aware of distress calls made from five vessels that left from Libya but as contact was lost with those boats, it is unclear whether it is one of these groups which could have potentially been rescued. 

“We hope it was one of the boats that contacted us because there has been a very heavy storm with metre-high waves, the situation is very dangerous and we are concerned about the outcome,” the spokesperson said. 

Times of Malta has sent questions to both the AFM and the Home Affairs Ministry. 

On Sunday, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration said that at least 30 people are missing after two vessels were shipwrecked just off Lampedusa, according to survivor testimony.

Around 28 people were reported lost at sea by survivors on one boat, while three were reported missing from the second after both went down in stormy weather on Saturday, the IOM said.

Both were rickety iron boats believed to have set off from Sfax in Tunisia on Thursday.

Cultural mediators with the IOM believed there were "at least 30 people missing" after speaking to the survivors, press officer Flavio Di Giacomo told AFP.

An investigation into the shipwrecks has been opened in Agrigento, on the nearby Italian island of Sicily.

Agrigento's chief of police Emanuele Ricifari said the traffickers would have known rough seas were forecast.

"Whoever allowed them, or forced them, to leave with this sea is an unscrupulous criminal lunatic," he told Italian media.

"Rough seas are forecast for the next few days. Let's hope they stop. It's sending them to slaughter with this sea," he said.


As the stormy weather continued, fire brigade and alpine rescue teams were preparing Sunday to pull to safety some 20 migrants trapped on a rocky part of Lampedusa's coastline.

The migrants have been there since late Friday after their boat was tossed onto the rocks by strong winds.

They have been provided with food, water, clothes and emergency thermal blankets by the Red Cross, but the coastguard has been unable to rescue them by sea due to the high waves.

Should the winds not drop, rescuers will begin winching them up the 140-metre-high cliff to safety, media reports said.

The Central Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe is the world's deadliest.

Over 1,800 people have died attempting it so far this year, Di Giacomo said - almost 900 more than last year.

"The truth is that figure is likely to be much higher. Lots of bodies are being found at sea, suggesting there are many shipwrecks we never hear about," he said.

The number of bodies found has increased in particular on the so-called Tunisian route, which has become increasingly dangerous, Di Flavio said, because of the type of boats used.

Sub-Saharan migrants are being put out to sea by traffickers "in iron boats which cost less than the usual wooden ones, but are utterly unseaworthy, they easily break up and sink", he said.

Migrants also often have the engines stolen from their boats at sea, so that traffickers can re-use them.

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