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foreign affairs

Ship abandoned by crew and filled with migrants towed to Italy

A Sierra Leone-flagged ship carrying as many as 450 migrants is being towed toward the southern Italian coast after it was abandoned by its crew. The Ezadeen is the second vessel in four days to be deserted by its crew in rough seas.

Both times, Italian authorities had to respond in order to prevent loss of life, The Guardian reports. The Ezadeen was without power and about 40 nautical miles from the coast when it was discovered, and many of the migrants on board are thought to be Syrians. In the past 14 months, Italian rescuers have saved more than 170,000 migrants from the water, while hundreds and possibly thousands have died.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, is closely monitoring the situation, with a spokesperson telling AFP, "The rescues of the Blue Sky M two days ago and of the Ezadeen show that smugglers are finding new ways to enter EU territory. To prevent such events and to protect the lives of migrants, fighting smuggling will continue to be a priority under the commission's agenda for comprehensive migration in 2015."