Lampedusa under pressure after record-breaking migrant arrivals

According to Italian media, it was believed that some 4,121 migrants and refugees were in the Lampedusa hotspot by midday Saturday.

The previous day saw a record 1,918 people arrive on the island in 65 different landings, with another 1,798 making port in 45 landings on Saturday.

Most of the refugees said they had set sail from Sfax, only two groups had left from Mahdia and one from Susa, Tunisia.

The Prefect of the Agrigento region, Filippo Romano said "Lampedusa can no longer receive refugees."

His statement came after the controversy surrounding the Ocean Viking ship operated by the NGO 'SOS Mediterranée.' Carrying 439 migrants, the ship was assigned to the port of Genoa.

The Lampedusa refugee centre was designed to hold a maximum of 400 people. However, following a recent reorganisation by the new Italian Red Cross management, the facility can now actually handle many more on a temporary basis.

Transfers have begun

The Italian authorities have already started to transfer most of the migrants.

By early afternoon, following the transfer of 721 people by passenger ferry to Porto Empedocle on mainland Sicily, the situation had improved slightly, with 3,372 people including 249 unaccompanied minors at the facility in Contrada Imbriacola.

Furthermore, on the orders of the Prefecture of Agrigento, the police escorted another 170 migrants to the port and embarked on the military ship 'Pantelleria,' which sailed to Augusta.

Other migrants remaining in the Lampedusa reception centre will be transferred to other regions: 150 migrants will leave for Veneto with three buses, 40 for Umbria, 150, with three buses, for Emilia and 100, with two vehicles, for Vibo Valentia.