Ship abandoned by smugglers off Italian coast with 450 migrants on board
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An abandoned ship believed to be carrying 450 migrants has been brought under control by authorities off the coast of Italy. The vessel is believed to have originated in Syria and sailed toward Europe via Turkey and smugglers left it adrift in the Mediterranean and floating toward Italy.
The Italian coast guard reported that the ship, a 240 foot long vessel named The Ezadeen and sailing with a Sierra Leone flag, is currently being towed toward a port in Calabria. An alarm was raised with the coast guard when a migrant on board radioed a message saying "We're without crew, we're heading toward the Italian coast and we have no one to steer."
A rescue team managed to board the ship which was drifting in extremely choppy waters. Bad weather continues to hamper the vessel reaching a port as it is being towed ashore by a European patrol ship from Icelandic named Tyr.
This is the second such ship abandoned by smugglers off the Italian coast this week alone after a second vessel, the Blue Sky M, was boarded by the Italian Coast Guard shortly before it would have run aground on the rocky coast. The ship, sailing with a Moldovan flag, was left adrift by human traffickers with 796 migrants on board also coming from Syria.
Italian authorities have rescued or intecepted approximately 170,000 int he past 14 months alone. These incidents are typical of a new tactic being used by human traffickers who know that authorities in Europe will be forced to rescue migrants once they abandon ships. Smugglers have begun to purchase larger used vessels in order to make more money from transporting a larger number of migrants in one journey.