06 May 2015
In one of the biggest rescue operations this year, nearly 5,800 migrants were plucked from boats off the coast of Libya and 10 bodies were recovered in less than 48 hours, Italy’s coast guard said.
Two weeks after nearly 900 migrants drowned in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory, the flow of people desperate to reach Europe has accelerated as people smugglers take advantage of calmer seas.
Seven bodies were found on two large rubber boats packed with migrants and rescuers plucked from the sea the corpses of three others who had jumped into the water when they saw a merchant ship approaching, the coast guard said.
Separately, authorities in Egypt said that three people died when a migrant boat attempting to reach Greece sank off its coast. Thirty-one people were rescued.
Italy’s coast guard has coordinated the rescues by its own navy and coast guard, a French ship acting on behalf of the European border control agency, merchant ships, and one vessel run by the privately funded Migrant Offshore Aid Station.
Up to 900 migrants are believed to have drowned last month in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory.
About 1,800 people are believed to have died during the crossing from Africa to Europe so far this year.
The vast majority of the migrants leave from Libya. Some 51,000 have entered Europe by sea, 30,500 via Italy, according to the UN refugee agency.