Hundreds of migrants were waiting to be transferred from the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa after more than 2,000 migrants reached Lampedusa days before. The local migrants housing center had been empty, but rapidly surpassed its 200-plus capacity.
Dozens spent the night just outside the center, carefully watched by Italian state police and military personnel, after spending hours on the dock.
Eight hundred migrants are ready to be transferred on board an unused passenger ferry dispatched to Lampedusa for quarantine but rough seas and wind have so far prevented the ferry from docking at the small port of the island, says Salvatore Martello, mayor of the island,.
The mayor said the 800 ready to leave have already been tested for COVID-19, but they will spend 10 days on the ferry.
The latest arrivals on Lampedusa, a 20-square-kilometer (about 8-square mile) island closer to northern Africa than to the Italian mainland, was the biggest number of migrants to come ashore in a single day at an Italian port this year.
This year’s arrivals have already topped by far the number of migrants arriving via sea in the same period in each of the past two years.
According to Interior Ministry figures, by May 10, 2019, just over 1,000 people had arrived by sea; by the same date in 2020, 4,184 had arrived, and this year so far nearly 13,000 have arrived.