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More than 600 migrants transferred to Italian ships for safety

CATANIA, Sicily — Aid group SOS Mediterranee Sea says it is transferring some of the 629 migrants rescued at sea to Italian ships to continue to the journey to Spain where the prime minister has offered safe harbor.

The Aquarius, the rescue ship operated by SOS Mediterranee, has been stuck at sea 35 nautical miles off the coast of Sicily since Saturday when Italy refused permission to dock and demanded Malta do so. Malta refused.

SOS Mediterranee spokeswoman Mathilde Auvillain said Tuesday that some passengers were being transferred before the journey “for security reasons” because of deteriorating weather conditions on the voyage to Valencia, Spain. Many passengers had been on decks and are being moved to ships of the Italian Navy and Coast Guard.

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