Two Algerian migrants dead, eight missing off Italy's coast

Two Algerian migrants dead, eight missing off Italy's coast
A total of ten migrants tried to swim to Italy's shore on Thursday after the motor of their boat failed near the Sardinian island of Sant'Antioco.
2 min read
18 November, 2018
Empty migrant boat found on the Mediterranean's shores [Getty]

Eight Algerian migrants who tried to swim to Italy's shore when the motor of their boat failed are missing, and the country's coast guard is searching for them off Sardinia's southwest coast. 

The coast guard said in a statement Saturday that three people who decided to stay aboard the stranded boat and were rescued told authorities that 10 people in all had abandoned ship Thursday near Isola del Toro, an uninhabited rock off the Sardinian island of Sant'Antioco.

The coast guard has already recovered two bodies.

A regional official, Filippo Spanu, alleged that criminal networks similar to ones in Libya run smuggling operations taking migrants from Algeria.

He said in a Facebook post the deaths nevertheless compelled Sardinians to "abandon our unfounded fears and give the poor victims the same sentiments that we reserve for those closest to us".  

Italy's far-right coalition government led by the Five Star Movement has been turning away ships with migrants rescued at sea since coming to power. 

More than 650,000 migrants have landed on Italy's shores since 2014. Rome has accused its EU peers of not taking in enough migrants landing along the Mediterranean.

In June, Salvini flew to Libya in a bid to block future migrant flows. His government struck a "friendship pact" with Libya soon after that reactivated a 2008 agreement to allow migrants to be sent back to Libya in exchange for foreign investment.

In August, Italy threatened to stop billions of euros of EU funding over the issue.

The increasingly hostile stance toward migrant flows reflects hardening public opinion in Europe following the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war or poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

While Sicily is a close European destination for migrants departing from Libya, people leaving from Algeria typically head for Sardinia. 

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