USS San Antonio rescues migrants from Mediterranean Sea near Malta

ROME - A U.S. Navy ship rescued 128
men from a raft after it was spotted in
the Mediterranean Sea by a Maltese
patrol aircraft, U.S. authorities said,
the latest incident in the growing
migrant crisis.
U.S. Navy Photo / AP
The USS San Antonio came to the re
of 128 men men adrift in an inflata
raft in the Mediterranean Sea on
Wednesday.
The USS San Antonio, an amphibious
transport dock ship, was called to the
scene in the central Mediterranean late
on Tuesday as high winds and seas
were rocking the boat, U.S. Navy
authorities in Italy said in a statement.
The men were offered food, water and
medical assistance and are due to be
transferred to Maltese vessels later in
the day, authorities in Malta said.
More than 550 people are feared
drowned after two separate disasters
this month when boats carrying
migrants capsized and sank in the
waters between Libya and the southern
Italian island of Lampedusa.
At least 363 bodies have been
recovered from the first boat which
sank on Oct. 3, while 34 died and as
many as 200 are missing after a
second incident just over a week later.
Italy has stepped up naval patrols in
the area to try to prevent further
disasters and together with Malta has
called for the crisis to be discussed at
the next meeting of the European
Council in Brussels on Oct. 24-25.
Lampedusa, which lies just 70 miles
(113 km) from the north African coast,
has been a stepping stone for migrants
trying to reach mainland Europe for
two decades. Now the Syrian civil war
and unrest in Egypt and other Arab
and African countries are fuelling the
flow of refugees.