More than 2,000 boat migrants rescued off Italy, more deaths feared

28 May, 2016 9:22 am

ROME – More than 2,000 migrants were rescued from boats in the Mediterranean on Friday, Italy’s coastguard said, as numbers soared for the third year running in the build up to summer.

Around 14,000 people were taken off often flimsy vessels over the whole week, the United Nations and the coastguard said, and hundreds may have drowned, survivors and boat crews added, though there are no official estimates of casualties.

Italian Navy ship Vega plucked about 130 people off a “half-submerged” large rubber boat – one of 17 operations coordinated by the coastguard on Friday. There were no details on how many were on board before it deflated.

The Vega recovered 10 bodies, Ansa news agency said. The coastguard and the navy said they could not confirm the number.

The coastguard said the warmer weather and calmer seas had led to a surge in the number of people trying to cross from Libya, where people smugglers operate with relative impunity. Numbers managing to reach Italy were comparable to the same period last year and the year before.

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