Two arrested over Migrant deaths in Italy

Search and rescue operations of Migrants will be stepped up and there will be a campaign to destroy traffickers’ boats.

Authorities in Italy have arrested two people in relation to the boat that capsized and killed over 800 African migrants who were crossing into Italy.

Officials say the two are the captain and a crew member of a boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday.

The two suspects are being held on suspicion human trafficking and are among survivors who arrived in Sicily late on Monday.

The arrests come after the EU set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

Italian police interviewed 27 survivors of the wreck as they were brought to Italy on a coastguard vessel on Tuesday. As many as 900 people are believed to have drowned.

The arrests came as the European Union proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search and rescue operations.

A 10-point plan presented by the European Commission on Monday is expected to be discussed at an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on Thursday.

The 10 point plan

1. Increase financial resources

2. Capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers

3. Gather information on smugglers and trace their funds

4. Help Greece and Italy in processing asylum applications

5. Ensure fingerprinting of all migrants in member states

6. Consider options for an emergency relocation mechanism

7. Offer a number of places to persons in need of protection

8. Establish a new programme for the rapid return of irregular migrants

9. Engage with countries surrounding Libya initiatives

10. Gather intelligence on migratory flows

“The situation in the Mediterranean is dramatic. It cannot continue like this,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.

Federica Mogherini, the chief of EU foreign affairs, said the deaths of hundreds of migrants over the weekend and Monday has “finally” given the idea of “a new sense of urgency, a new sense of political will” to tackle the crisis.

Search and rescue operations will be stepped up and there will be a campaign to destroy traffickers’ boats.

Italian Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio said the prosecutor of Catania in Sicily, Giovanni Salvi, had ordered the arrests of the two men who had arrived in the port on a coast guard vessel.

Other officials said the pair were the Tunisian captain of the migrant boat and his Syrian first mate.