Baby reported missing in migrant capsizing off Italy island

ROME (AP) — Rescuers searched the waters near a southern Italian island Sunday for a 2-week-old baby girl reported missing after a migrant boat capsized.

Italian authorities said the boat overturned a day earlier near the uninhabited islet of Lampione, part of the archipelago which includes Lampedusa, a tourist island where many rescued migrants are sheltered.

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, told Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero that Italian border police rescued the capsized boat’s other passengers.

The 39 survivors from various sub-Saharan countries included eight children and the parents of the missing newborn, Italian daily newspaper La Sicilia reported Sunday on its website.

The rescue was one of several carried out by Italian military vessels or private charity boats off Lampedusa and off Italy’s southern mainland in recent days. Hundreds of rescued people are now being temporarily sheltered in a chronically overcrowded migrant residence on Lampedusa.

Italy has grappled for more than a decade with how to prevent Europe-bound migrants from attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats launched from Libya, Tunisia or elsewhere in north Africa.

Most of these migrants see their asylum bids fail because they are fleeing poverty, not war or persecution.

Italy’s new premier, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, campaigned on a pledge to crack down on the migration route. She advocates a naval blockade of the southern Mediterranean rim.

“We must continue to reaffirm the need to have migratory flows entrusted to the states and to their ability to manager this phenomenon, and not to the action of traffickers and neither to that of spontaneous (action) even if it’s humanitarian,” Piantedosi told Il Messaggero.

A key partner in Meloni’s day-old coalition government is Matteo Salvini. As Italy’s interior minister a few years ago, Salvini tried to stop rescue boats from disembarking migrants in Italian ports, and was prosecuted for his efforts.

Piantedosi said he planned to discuss migrant issues later Sunday with his French counterpart and with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was attending a pro-peace conference in Rome.

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