Over 4,200 migrants rescued from Mediterranean in 24 hours
May 31, Rome: More than 4,200 migrants are being rescued from boats in the Mediterranean in just 24 hours and brought them to southern Italy, the Italian coastguard said.
The migrants were rescued from wooden fishing boats and motorised rubber dinghies on Friday and Saturday in operations involving ships from nations including Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain.
Distress calls were made from 22 different boats, many off Libya but also off the southern Italian coast.
Seventeen bodies were found off Libya on three inflatable dinghies, from which more than 300 other migrants were rescued alive, the Italian navy said on Twitter. Details of the nationalities of the victims and how they died have not yet been released.
The total number of people rescued in the past 24 hours is one of the highest in recent years. So far, the busiest days this year have been the rescue of 3,791 migrants on April 12 and 3,690 on May 2.
Overall, more than 40,400 migrants – many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in countries such as Syria and Eritrea – have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, similar to the same period last year.
So far this year, about 1,770 migrants have perished on the hazardous journey to Europe, according to a latest International Organization for Migration (IOM) report which does not include the latest rescues, a 30-fold increase on the same period in 2014.
The Oslo Times