Italy’s Coast Guard and Navy as well as tugs and other commercial vessels joined forces to rescue migrants in at least 16 boats on Sunday, saving hundreds of them and recovering 10 bodies off Libya’s coast, as smugglers took advantage of calm seas to send packed vessels across the Mediterranean.
The Italian Coast Guard said the bodies were found in three separate rescue operations off Libya’s coast. The Coast Guard was being aided by a tug and a merchant ship in at least some of the rescue efforts. In one of those rescues, a cargo ship found three migrants dead and 105 survivors on a dinghy in the waters north of Tripoli, Libya.
In yet another dramatic rescue, migrants aboard a motorized rubber dinghy that was deflating were spotted by an Italian Navy helicopter. Boats in distress were being spotted so quickly Sunday, that in one case, a Navy vessel had just finished one rescue of 90 migrants when it immediately went to the aid of another migrant boat. One rescue involved 311 people, including 16 children, saved from a fishing boat in the smugglers’ fleet.
Sunday’s drama at sea came a day after 3,690 migrants were saved from smugglers’ boats. Most of those migrants were still being taken to southern Italian ports even as the fresh rescues were taking place.
The soaring numbers sparked the latest round of calls from far-right politicians in Europe for drastic action to stop migrants from reaching European shores, once and for all.
Report compiled with information from Associated Press.