Italy works to transfer thousands of migrants who reached a tiny island in a day
A migrant reception center in Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa was overwhelmed Thursday as authorities worked to transfer to the mainland thousands of people who arrived on small, unseaworthy boats in a 24-hour span this week.
The Red Cross said there were still 4,200 migrants at the center out of the 6,800 who reached the tiny tourist and fishing island in a flotilla of some 120 boats that set out from Tunisia.
Commercial ferries and Italian military vessels were taking newcomers from Lampedusa to mainland Italy.
"After a particularly challenging day like yesterday, today people are being continuously transferred,’’ Francesca Basile of the Italian Red Cross said.
She said all of the migrants received and camping beds were being distributed "so that they don’t sleep in the cold."
The movements of newly arrived migrants are usually tightly controlled. But with the reception center overflowing, some slipped away, and they were spotted all over the island, according to volunteers.