"All 54 survivors have been rescued and are now aboard," Mediterranea, which is made up of left-wing activists, tweeted. "Among them 11 women [three pregnant] and 4 children...
"Happy to have rescued 54 lives from the hell of Libya. Now we need a safe port."
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who has tried to close Italian ports to migrant rescue vessels swiftly tweeted that Mediterranea's 18-metre sailboat Alex should take those rescued to Tunisia.
"Otherwise we will activate all procedures to prevent Italy being a port of arrival for human traffickers," Salvini said.
He added the rescue boat was "dozens of nautical miles closer to Tunisia than Lampedusa," the southern Italian island where Italian authorities last week seized a vessel belonging to German aid group Sea Watch and arrested its captain for unauthorised entry to port.
"If this NGO really is concerned by the security of the migrants then let it head for the nearest port otherwise they should know that we shall activate all procedures to avoid having trafficking in human beings reaching Italy," said Salvini.
Source: The Local