The rescue boat Open Arms described the situation on board as "out of control" and "desperate" on Tuesday, August 20th. After one migrant jumped ship earlier in the day on August 20th and was rescued by the Italian coast guard, nine more launched themselves into the sea.
A reporter with the Spanish public broadcaster TVE reporting from the NGO boat said that the earlier jumper refused to return to the Open Arms ship and was brought to the Italian island of Lampedusa instead, apparently triggering the reaction of the nine who followed his lead.
The reporter said that those jumping were "desperate and going mad" after 19 days trapped on board.
Italy's hard-line interior minister Matteo Salvini has refused port access to the rescue ships, even though in this case, six other European countries have agreed to take the passengers, AP reported.
The Open Arms said that the Italian coast guard managed to rescue all nine of the group that followed the first jumper, but it was not immediately clear if they would also be taken to land.
The ship's captain previously informed Italian authorities that the crew of 17 could no longer control the situation on board as frustration among migrants has reached a boiling point.