ROME (dpa) – About 450 refugees arrived Friday in the southern Italian port of Corigiliano Calabro on board a ship that had been abandoned by human traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea.
The refugees, mostly from Syria, were aboard the nearly 50-year-old freighter that was designed for livestock transport under the flag of Sierra Leone. Many suffered from hypothermia.
It was the second case of its kind within a week. Italian authorities on Wednesday stopped the freighter Blue Sky M with nearly 800 people on board and led it into port. It also had no captain or crew.
The European Union’s border protection agency Frontex called the abandonment of ships full of refugees a “new degree of cruelty”.
Spokeswoman Eva Moncure called the smuggling of refugees a lucrative business.
The disabled Ezadeen was discovered by a coast guard plane that tried to contact the freighter without success. A passenger answered the call, explaining that the crew had left the ship.
The Italian Coast Guard launched a rescue effort Thursday, the news agency Ansa reported.