Rome: Over 1,100 migrants reached Sicily aboard a rescue ship with the bodies of 17 others who died on the journey across the Mediterranean.
As the boat docked at Palermo on Monday, workers from the Red Cross, Catholic charity Caritas and the local health authority were waiting to assist the migrants, who included many minors, Italian officials said.
Police were also at the docks to check if any people smuggling suspects were among the migrants disembarking from the rescue ship.
Prosecutors in Palermo have opened a probe into the deaths of the 17 migrants, who are said to include several children.
A further 840 migrants were due to reach the Sicilian port of Messina on Monday aboard a German military vessel and some 800 were expected at the Sicilian port of Augusta, Italian officials said.
More than 3,650 migrants have gone missing or died this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe by boat, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates.
This year’s death toll is higher than 2015 (3,138) for the same period, although the number of migrants who reached Europe is less than half, according to the IOM.
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has appealed to his European partners to come up with a fundamental solution to the migrant issue.
“We cannot go on this way,” he said during a visit to Sicily on October 22.