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Italy eyes block on migrant-rescue ships

Staff Writer |
Italy may start denying access to foreign vessels bringing rescued migrants to its shores, government sources told Italian news agency ANSA.

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A record influx of some 10,000 migrants and refugees over the past four days has prompted Italy to tell the European Union in a formal message that the situation is getting serious.

Italy will continue saving lives at sea but it is "no longer sustainable" for all those rescued to be brought here and the possible block would include foreign vessels run by humanitarian NGOs, by the EU's Frontex border agency, and by the EU NavforMed mission against migrant traffickers, ANSA reported.

The recent massive flow of rescued refugees also prompted Interior Minister Marco Minniti to announce Tuesday that he was canceling a state visit to Washington DC, local media said.

Almost 9,000 people were rescued between Saturday and Monday, with a further 2,000 plucked on Tuesday from vessels run by human traffickers along the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy, according to local media.

Televised footage showed distraught-looking men and women on inflatable dinghies handing babies and crying children to rescuers.

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