450 Migrants on Abandoned Ship Are Rescued

Ezadeen being towed to Italian coast after smugglers abandoned it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2015 8:27 AM CST
450 Migrants on Abandoned Ship Are Rescued
An Italian Coast guard ship arrives at the southern Italian port of Manfredonia, Italy, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Luigi Mistrulli)

After several hours of struggling, Italian rescue teams shortly before dawn managed to secure the wave-tossed Ezadeen, says an Italian Coast Guard commander. On board: about 450 migrants who were abandoned by smugglers, leaving the cargo vessel in rough seas without a crew. An Icelandic Coast Guard ship is now towing the ship toward the southern Calabrian region, days after Italy stopped a migrant ship from crashing into the Italian coast. Children and pregnant women are among the migrants; most are believed to be Syrian, the commander says, adding the Sierra-Leone-flagged cargo ship apparently set sail from Turkey.

By midday, the migrants were still hours away from land. Authorities still didn't know which port would receive the ship with its human cargo. Bad weather made the route unsure, with two ports of the Calabrian coastline in the "instep" of the Italian boot-shaped peninsula being cited as possibilities. Engineers and electricians were lowered by helicopter to the ship to get the Ezadeen steering smoothly so it could safely enter a port. A blackout on board complicated efforts; the cause of the blackout is not immediately clear. Earlier in the day, a migrant had called for help saying: "We're without crew, we're heading toward the Italian coast and we have no one to steer." (More cargo ships stories.)

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