Rome: The Italian Coast Guard took control Friday of a cargo ship that was heading to the Italian coast with about 450 illegal immigrants, including 30 women and several children, and no crew on board, media reported.
Italian Coast Guard Commander Filippo Marini told Sky TV that six guards managed to reach the ship by helicopter.
The ship has currently set sail to a yet to be determined Italian port at the speed of three knots as the sea conditions were “not good”, Marini said.
A navy plane spotted the vessel late Thursday when it broke down about 64 km off Cabo de Leuca in the southern Italian province of Lecce.
When port authorities contacted the ship, Marini explained that they got answers from a woman who said that they were alone because the crew had abandoned the ship.
Marini said the number of the passengers ranged between 400 and 450 and that the ship came from a Turkish port but did not specify which one.
The coast guard has previously warned that ship was in danger because it might hit rocks near the coast, according to Italian media reports.
The incident occurred two days after another ship carrying 796 illegal immigrants reached southern Italy.