August 20, 2019 / 1:10 PM / a month ago

Spain sending navy ship to bring Open Arms migrants to Spain

Migrants jump off the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, close to the Italian shore in Lampedusa, Italy August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government said on Tuesday it was sending a navy ship to the Italian island of Lampedusa to escort the Open Arms rescue ship to Spain, in a bid to bring an end to an ordeal that has seen migrants stranded in the Mediterranean for 19 days.

“The Audaz will depart this afternoon at 5 p.m. and will sail for three days to Lampedusa, where it will take charge of the people hosted by the Open Arms and escort the boat ... to the port of Palma in Mallorca,” the Socialist government said in a statement.

The Open Arms ship, run by a Spanish charity of the same name, was still unaware of the plan. Earlier on Tuesday the charity described the situation onboard as “out of control,” and said that at least ten people had jumped overboard in a “desperate” attempt to swim to Lampedusa.

Reporting by Ashifa Kassam, editing by Andrei Khalip

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