Italians save 4,000 migrants in one day
Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers' boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard said yesterday.
The agency said 17 different rescue operations were carried out on Saturday after smugglers took advantage of calm seas and warm weather to move the migrants out of Africa on motorised rubber dinghies and fishing boats.
Some of the migrants were being brought to ports in Sicily while others were expected to reach Calabria, in the south of the Italian mainland, today as temporary shelters for those rescued were reaching full capacity on the Mediterranean island.
While there was no issue with the weather, the smugglers often use ageing vessels that sometimes begin leaking shortly after leaving Libya.
The boats are crammed with too many people as traffickers try to maximise earnings off the migrants, who pay hundreds of euros for the passage between the Mediterranean's southern shore and Italy.
The relentless flood of migrants is continuing this year after 170,000 were rescued at sea by Italy in 2014 - a 277pc increase over the numbers in 2013.
Italy has pressed the European Union to do more to help it save the migrants, especially since many of those plucked to safety are asylum seekers hoping to reach relatives in northern Europe.
An estimated 800 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Libya.