Fifty-one migrants including two infants landed on a beach in southern Italy on Thursday, despite the far-right interior minister's insistence that the country is closed to new arrivals.
Residents, city workers and migrants themselves helped the migrants -- including a three-month-old girl and an 18-month-old infant -- to shore, taking them to a hotel, the mayor said.
"It was a moment of great humanity and great solidarity on the part of the residents and great professionalism on the part of the authorities," Murgi said.
After most of the migrants got to shore, "there were still women screaming on the beach," Murgi said, describing the drama he encountered as he arrived on the scene in the dark.
"Their children were still in the boat, which lay on its side. It was dark and cold. These moments were terrible," he said.
The migrants were expected to be transferred to a reception centre later.
Two Russian nationals suspected of being human traffickers were arrested, Murgi said. They had taken a room in a nearby hotel but raised suspicions when they arrived at dawn, soaked and without Italian visas stamped in their passports.
Despite Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's assertion that the country's "ports are closed" to would-be asylum seekers, arrivals have continued since he took up his post in June last year, averaging 44 migrants a day, or nearly 10,000.
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