A ship carrying 500 migrants has gone missing in the Mediterranean, according to the associations

ROME (Reuters) – A ship carrying nearly 500 migrants, including a newborn baby and a pregnant woman, has disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea, two federations said on Friday, adding that the search was still ongoing.

Alarm Phone, a group that responds to distress calls from migrant ships, says it lost contact with the ship on Wednesday morning.

At the time, the boat, a victim of engine failure, was in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, about 320 km north of the Libyan port of Benghazi and more than 400 km from Malta, or Sicily.

Italian NGO Emergency said on Thursday that neither its ship, The Life Support, nor Ocean Viking, which belongs to another consortium, had found any trace of the missing ship.

An emergency spokesman said on Friday that the search was still ongoing and speculated that the migrants could have been picked up by another ship or that the boat could have left for Sicily.

More than 1,000 migrants were rescued in two separate operations – unrelated to the missing ship according to alarm phones – the Italian coast guard announced on Thursday.

More than 47,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, compared with 18,000 in the same period last year.

(Reporting by Elvis Armellini, French edition edited by Zhifan Liu, Blandine Heinault)

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