Spain has stepped in and said it would be welcoming the Aquarius, with 629 migrants on board, and allow it to dock in Valencia. It said some passengers had seawater in their lungs as well as chemical burns caused when gasoline mixes with seawater.
"The team is still a bit calm and we know the situation is stable but it can not run" forever, SOS Mediterranee's Laurent said.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini sent out a message explaining why the ship was being told to hold on station.
Italy has had to accept some 700,000 migrants since 2013, in line with the controversial Dublin Regulation requiring to declare refugee status in their first country of arrival. "The details of this agreement are not known and we don't know if Salvini will inherit that deal", he said.
Days after assuming office, Mr Salvini issued a warning to people smugglers in a statement that drew direct comparisons with former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott's "stop the boats" rhetoric.
On a recent visit to the southern port of Pozzallo where many migrants have been arriving, Salvini said Italy is a member of global organizations such as the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
"To politely raise one's voice pays off", Salvini told a news conference in Milan.
Malta said the German charity SOS Mediterranee had picked up the migrants in Libyan waters, which meant they fell under Italy's jurisdiction.
By law, it would be hard for Italy to refuse the boat a safe haven, as its own coastguard coordinated the rescues, picking up more than 280 migrants in its own vessels before transferring them to the Aquarius to be taken to safety.
The agency was sent questions to assess whether any of the countries were violating their obligations to Frontex or any other global agreements, and at which port should the migrants disembark. France and Spain have previously said it's not their job either. The tiny island says it already accepts proportionately more refugees than Italy. "He is now out of danger", Beversluis said. Many thousands of them drowned en route.
"Several (migrants) need medical assistance, which requires a rapid solution", Doctors without Borders, which runs a medical clinic on the Aquarius, said in a statement.
Doctors Without Borders, which has staff aboard the Aquarius, tweeted a video of some of the women aboard the ship praying Monday morning and said they were unaware of the diplomatic drama being waged on land over their fate.
"Thank you, Lord", the women sang.
Mr Salvini is being seen as making good on "get-tough" anti-immigration electoral promises by banning the boat Aquarius in a move which has seismic implications for the European Union and its immigration policy.
"From now on, Italy isn't alone, and we hope other European leaders follow" Spain's example, said Di Maio, who along with the League is seeking to renegotiate the EU regulations that determine which EU country is responsible for processing asylum claims.
"As such Malta will not take the said vessel in its ports".
Some in Italy have offered to take in migrants. "Italy is done bending over backwards and obeying, this time THERE IS SOMEONE WHO SAYS NO", he wrote on Twitter followed by the hashtag #closethedoors.
Italy has always been a destination for migrants crossing the Mediterranean and has been dealing with a surge in arrivals in recent years. Jeffrey Schaffer in Paris, Stephen Calleja in Valletta, Malta, and Frances D'Emilio in Rome contributed.
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