02:02 GMT12 August 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Open Arms ship, which has been stranded for nearly three weeks in the Mediterranean with migrants from Africa aboard, has finally docked at the Italian island of Lampedusa upon receiving authorization from the chief prosecutor of Italy's Agrigento city, the Spanish non-governmental organization that owns the vessel said.

    "The Prosecutor's Office of Agrigento ordered the immediate disembarkation of all people on board Open Arms at the Lampedusa port and temporary detention of the vessel. Finally, the nightmare is over and the 83 persons aboard will receive emergency assistance on land," the Open Arms NGO posted on Twitter.

    On Tuesday, Agrigento Chief Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio described the situation on the ship as "explosive" after some of the stranded migrants were reported to have thrown themselves into the sea to swim their way to shore, while many others have suffered from panic attacks and attempted suicide.

    Later that day, Patronaggio visited the ship accompanied by doctors and police, as reported by Italy's TGCOM24 broadcaster, and then ordered its seizure and the transfer of migrants to land. A probe has been launched into the neglect of official duty in addition to the ongoing investigation into false imprisonment.

    Nearly 20 days ago, the Open Arms ship rescued migrants from the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most popular but dangerous migration routes to Europe, but the Italian authorities were reluctant to let it dock.

    Last week, an Italian court ruled to allow Open Arms to enter national waters. At the time, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened to fine charities rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean up to $1.1 million and confiscate the ships.

    On Sunday, Spain offered the vessel to dock at its port in Algeciras, but Open Arms said that the humanitarian situation was dire and that the passengers and crew would not make the five day journey to the Spanish port. Six other European countries have reportedly agreed to take in the Open Arms migrants.


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