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Italy won''t allow boat with 450 migrants; says 'go to Malta'

AP  |  Rome 

and squabbled over who was responsible for rescuing 450 migrants crowded aboard a fishing boat in the as the vessel, apparently not seeking help, headed toward a tiny island off

Italian had tweeted that was obliged under to rescue the migrants since they were in the Maltese earlier yesterday and also provide the fishing boat with safe harbour.

But retorted that when Rome's maritime rescue coordination center informed it about the vessel, the boat was already far closer to the tiny Sicilian island of than it was to Maltese shores. The Maltese interior ministry also said that persons aboard the vessel announced their intention to proceed to

Italian Matteo Salvini, who's leading the new populist's government campaign to keep more migrants from reaching Italian shores, was adamant that the boat wouldn't dock in any Italian port.

"This boat cannot, must not arrive," Salvini tweeted.

"We already have given, you understand." Salvini was apparently referring to the costs that has incurred in the last few years caring for some 600,000 migrants who were rescued at sea and brought to Italian shores.

On Thursday, Salvini was thwarted thanks to Italian presidential intervention in his determination that 67 migrants rescued earlier in the week by an Italian tug in the waters off not set foot in

The tug's had told the that the migrants were threatening the crew after it appeared that the tug would turn them over to the

Italian prosecutors are investigation the alleged threats.

The vessel Diciotti arrived in the port of Trapani, in western Sicily, on Thursday, but the migrants were kept aboard while Salvini vowed that "delinquents" among the migrants would be jailed, then expelled, leaving it unclear for hours if the other passengers would be allowed off to seek asylum.

After expressed humanitarian concerns about the migrants, authorities granted the Italian ship docking permission.

Salvini insists that the guard deal with migrants in waters off the largely lawless North African country. But U.N. officials and human rights advocates say migrants are at risk for torture, beatings, rape and other atrocities in Libyan detention centers.

Two African migrants were escorted off the Diciotti Thursday night by The other migrants, including young children and women then came down the gangway to be taken to a center for identification.

Salvini had said a Sudanese and a Ghanaian among the migrants allegedly tried to hijack the tug so it wouldn't return them to

Italian media quoted as saying the investigation would be carried out without bowing to any political pressures. No arrests were immediately made.

In an interview with Italian radio station yesterday, Salvini insisted that no more "fake refugees" would arrive, referring to the large percentage of migrants who see their asylum bid fail.

The Italian agency quoted a for UNICEF, the U.N. children's advocacy agency, and the group as saying the migrants recounted several minutes of "great confusion and fear."

was also quoted as saying that migrants said they were ready to dive into the sea to avoid being sent back to

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, July 14 2018. 03:45 IST