Spain rescues over 500 migrants in Mediterranean

Migrants, part of a group intercepted aboard two dinghies off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, rest on a rescue boat upon arrival at the port of Malaga, Spain May 22, 2018. Picture taken May 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Spain rescues over 500 migrants in Mediterranean

  • Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has rescued 500 migrants attempting the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea this weekend
  • Spanish boats rescued almost 300 migrants from nine boats and a further 250 migrants were rescued from eight boats a day later

BARCELONA: Spanish authorities rescued over 500 migrants this weekend from more than a dozen boats making the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Following plane and helicopter searches, Spanish boats rescued almost 300 migrants from nine boats on Saturday, authorities said.

As of Sunday afternoon, a further 250 migrants were rescued from eight boats, three of which were in poor condition and later sank, they added.

The migrants were from various countries in North and sub-Saharan Africa.

The number of people crossing into Spain by sea from North Africa, either via the Strait of Gibraltar or the Sea of Alboran, has increased significantly in recent years while arrivals to Italy and Greece via Libya have dropped.

Around 19,000 people made the sea crossing in 2017, representing a 182 percent increase on the previous year.

Europe’s border agency Frontex said in January that it expected a further increase in irregular immigration to Spain this year, with flows boosted by the use of fast boats.

An Italian coast guard official said on Sunday more than 1,800 migrants attempting to cross from Libya to Italy were rescued over the past three days, following an improvement in the weather.


Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

Updated 14 November 2018
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Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

  • An official named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep
  • Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year

SINGAPORE: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte skipped several meetings at an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting the 73-year-old’s office to issue a statement scotching speculation that it was due to ill health.
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and wellbeing which have been the subject of speculation,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The president’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.”
Panelo named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep, and said he would also skip a gala dinner with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and several others.
Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year, and he has said openly that he is tired and would like to step down before the end of his term ends in 2022.
Last month Duterte’s office revealed that he had undergone a colonoscopy and he told reporters that a biopsy had shown he did not have cancer.
The constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious.
If a sitting president dies, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition, was elected separately in 2016. Speculation about Duterte’s health last month prompted concern that the Philippines could be headed for uncertainty given the highly polarized political climate.
Duterte has cited Robredo’s “incompetence” as a reason for his inability to quit as president.
Duterte has a record of skipping summit sessions, though he did not miss any as host when the Philippines held the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Panelo said it was “amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss” of Duterte’s absences, noting that he had attended ASEAN meetings with leaders from China, Japan and Russia.
“Last night, the president worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30a.m.”
Duterte is known for having an unorthodox working schedule that typically starts mid-afternoon and includes cabinet meetings that can go on beyond midnight.