ROME: Italian authorities have evacuated 11 migr­a­nts from the Open Arms ship but not granted port access to the vessel, leaving it stranded in rough seas with 62 African migrants still on board, a spokeswoman for the Span­i­sh rescue mission said on Sunday.

The Open Arms picked up 73 migrants from a packed rubber dinghy drifting about 50 miles off Libya on Wednesday night and is seeking a safe harbour for those who remain on board.

Italy has allowed the ship to enter its national waters to shelter from a storm but has so far refused to let the vessel dock, the charity said.

Open Arms Mission Chief Ricardo Gatti, who is onboard the ship, said the organization has requested to land in Italy and Malta but has been denied permission. Italy suggested that the ship should dock at the Libyan port of Tripoli, he said.

“We continue to ask for a safe port to disembark which is a legal obligation by the government according to international conventions. We have people on board who probably need to be evacuated due to health issues,” Gatti said.

On the Italian island of Lam­­p­edusa, bodies of five women were retrieved early on Sunday after their boat capsized in bad sea conditions on Saturday, Italian Coast Guard said.

Three were found at sea and two more on a beach, a Coast Guard statement said.

The Coast Guard saved 149 people on Saturday, including 13 women and three children, from the sinking vessel after it was reported in distress less than one mile off Lampedusa.

Survivors said up to 20 people were unaccounted for. Those missing at sea were from Alge­ria, Tunisia and Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019