MILAN: Italian ships have recovered five bodies and rescued 674 people crammed onto a drifting fishing boat in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya, the Italian coast guard said on Sunday, while European charities said they had saved around 500 more.
Some of the survivors had to be snatched from the sea during the Italian operation on Saturday which was carried out 190 kilometers off Calabria by a navy merchant vessel, three coastguard patrol boats and a financial police boat . All those rescued were brought to ports in Calabria and Sicily.
The causes of death of the five dead were not immediately known.
The coastguard said it was just one of a series of rescues in recent days in Italy’s central Mediterranean search and rescue zone, as desperate people fleeing poverty or oppression were looking for a better life in Europe. In one case, a helicopter was called in to evacuate a woman in need of medical attention from a migrant boat in a precarious condition, the Coast Guard said.
In separate operations, German charity Sea-Watch said it rescued 444 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean on overcrowded and rickety smugglers’ boats. The Sea-Watch 3 vessel carried out all five operations in 24 hours and said survivors included a pregnant woman and a badly burned man.
The charity is asking permission to bring the rescued people to a safe port, as the rescue ship is unable to accommodate that many people.
In addition, the European charity SOS Mediterranean said his salvage ship ocean viking rescued 87 people, including 57 unaccompanied minors, from an overcrowded dinghy off the coast of Libya. None had life jackets, the charity said.
Migrant arrivals in Italy have increased by almost a quarter compared to 2021, with 34,013 recorded up to Friday.
Although still significantly lower than the record year of 2015, crossings remain deadly, with 1,234 people recorded dead or missing at sea by the UN refugee agency this year, including 823 in the perilous Mediterranean. central.