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Migrant-laden Ship Reaches Southern Italian Port


FILE - Migrants are seen on the Blue Sky M cargo ship, carrying an estimated 900 migrants, as they arrive at the Gallipoli harbor in southern Italy, Dec. 31, 2014.

A ship carrying hundreds of migrants arrived Friday evening at the southern Italian port of Corigliano Calabro after being abandoned by its crew in rough seas.

Italian Coast Guard personnel were able to take control of the ship, the Ezadeen, earlier Friday after being lowered by helicopter onto its deck. The ship had lost power in rough seas about 40 kilometers off Crotone on Italy's heel.

Authorities estimated there were 450 people on board, including women and children. Most were thought to be Syrian.

A passenger had used the ship's radio to inform authorities that the crew jumped ship.

It was the second such incident in a week.

The European Commission said Friday that the fight against human smuggling would be a top priority in its “comprehensive approach to migration” for 2015.

The commission said smugglers are finding new routes to Europe and using new methods to exploit desperate people trying to escape conflict and war in their home countries. A commission statement read: “We must not allow smugglers to put at risk people’s lives in old, abandoned ships in dangerous weather.”

On Wednesday, Italian sailors intercepted another cargo ship carrying migrants, the Moldovan-registered Blue Sky, and guided it safely to the southern port of Gallipoli.

Abandoned by smugglers, the ship with more than 700 people on board had been drifting on autopilot toward the rocks of Italy's southeastern shore.

Most of those on the Blue Sky were Syrian and Kurdish refugees.

Thousands of migrants die each year trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Some use dangerous and flimsy boats, while others pay smugglers for a place on larger ships, like ferries and freighters.