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1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Italy, 10 Die
International

1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Italy, 10 Die

Nearly 1,000 migrants and refugees were rescued off Italy’s coast, while 10 migrants perished in the southern Mediterranean, officials said Wednesday.
The rescue vessels, including coast guard, navy and cargo ships, saved 941 people in seven separate operations that began Tuesday, ABC News quoted a coast guard as saying.
The survivors were being ferried to southern Italian ports. The migrants had been aboard five motorized dinghies and two larger vessels. One of the larger boats capsized, and 10 bodies were spotted or plucked from the sea.
For months now, hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of migrants, fleeing conflicts or poverty have been reaching Italy practically weekly on smugglers’ boats setting sail from bases in Libya.
This year’s pace has seen a sharp uptick from 2014’s already staggering count of 170,000 migrants and asylum-seekers rescued at sea by Italy’s coast guard, navy and other vessels, including cargo boats pressed into humanitarian service.
According to Interior Ministry figures, 7,882 migrants arrived on Italian coasts in the first two months of this year, compared to 5,506 in that period in 2014.
The coast guard said the migrants saved in the latest rescues claimed to be Syrians, Palestinians, Libyans, Tunisians or from sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the first alarms went out from a tug deployed at offshore Libyan oil platforms, and the tug also joined in the rescue, the coast guard said.
For years, Italy has been appealing to the European Union to help with the rescues, with ships, aircraft or funding. It points out that most of those rescued intend to reach relatives or jobs in other European countries.
This year, an EU patrol mission known as Triton replaced Italy’s Mare Nostrum air and sea mission that had saved tens of thousands of lives. But Triton is more limited geographically, patrolling only EU countries’ waters, while the Italians had carried out rescues off Libya’s coast, where many of the unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels, founder.

 

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