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Spanish NGO boat rescues 124 people in Mediterranean, seeks port as ‘Italy rejects request’

Spanish NGO boat rescues 124 people in Mediterranean, seeks port as ‘Italy rejects request’

A Spanish charity rescue boat sought safe port on Friday after Italy rejected its request to disembark 124 people saved from two migrant rafts in the Mediterranean, Reuters reports.

Barcelona-based NGO Open Arms rescued 55 people from a sinking raft on Thursday, and a further 69 people from another boat during Thursday night, the organization tweeted. Many showed signs of violence suffered in Libya before beginning the sea journey, according to Open Arms founder Oscar Camps.

“As was to be expected, we have received word from the Italian government. A €50,000 ($55,500) fine and seizure of the Open Arms hangs over us if we enter Italian waters, this in addition to the threats of the Spanish government,” Open Arms said. The boat was heading north in search of a safe port.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is pushing to increase fines for rescue boats, said on Thursday that any such vessel entering Italian waters will be seized.