The Spanish government denied today it had agreed with Italy to disembark the 107 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean at the port of Palma in Majorca, while reiterating its readiness to receive the migrants there.
Spanish rescue ship Open Arms said in a statement earlier the two countries appeared to have struck a deal for the Majorca disembarking, which would add another three days to what has been a trying situation.
"The government denies the existence of any alleged deal with Italy, it said in a statement."
"The only correct information is that the Spanish government had offered to Open Arms to head for the nearest Spanish port and that the Italian government is infringing the law by preventing the migrants from disembarking in Lampedusa."
For more than two weeks, the migrants have been left floating off the Italian coast, caught between a tug of war between Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini's tough line on immigration and the EU´s initial reluctance to find a solution.
Open Arms said that a few migrants had jumped off the boat. It posted a video on Twitter of what it said were migrants from the boat trying to swim to shore before being caught by rescuers who jumped in after them.
17 días secuestrados en #OpeArms llevamos días avisando. Lo ordenó el Tribunal Adminitrativo Italiano, desembarco y asistencia urgente.@JunckerEU@EP_President#AngelaMerkel@sanchezcastejon? Oscar Camps (@campsoscar) August 18, 2019
¿Que más necesita @matteosalvinimi para su camapaña política?¿Muertos? pic.twitter.com/sFbQw9ahbq
Open Arms said yesterday that "If an agreement has indeed been reached, it's essential for Italy and Spain to take responsibility for ensuring, by providing the necessary means, that these people finally disembark at a safe harbour," the organisation said in a statement.
When contacted by Reuters today, a senior official with the Spanish government declined to comment.