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Italy's Lampedusa island hit with record migrant arrivals

Migrants arrive in Lampedusa

LAMPEDUSA (Reuters) - The Italian island of Lampedusa is struggling with a record number of landings from boat migrants, local officials said on Tuesday, describing the situation as "dramatic."

Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost point and a first port of call for people crossing from North Africa, has long been a flashpoint of Europe's migration crisis.

The daily tally of migrant boats reaching the island has surpassed a previous record of 63 last month and is expected to hit around 80 by the end of the day, local police chief Emanuele Ricifari told Reuters.

He said there were about 2,800 migrants in the island's "hotspot" reception centre - which has an official capacity of only around 400 - plus about 300 more in other parts of the island.

The migrants were all due to be transferred to the larger island of Sicily to ease overcrowding and make room for future arrivals.

"The situation is really dramatic," Prefect Filippo Romano, a provincial government official, was quoted as saying by the ANSA and AGI news agencies.

"We will probably get to 100 landings today, the island can no longer sustain these numbers," Mayor Filippo Mannino told the Adnkronos news agency.

Overall, about 118,500 boat migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, according to interior ministry data - almost double the 64,529 recorded in the same period of 2022.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, elected last year pledging to fight irregular immigration, has failed to bring down the numbers as a crackdown on migrants in Tunisia and continuing chaos in Libya have led to more sea crossings from North Africa.

(Reporting by Tony Colapinto, writing by Alvise Armellini, editing by Gavin Jones and Angus MacSwan)