Italy Leads Rescue of 6,000+ Migrants off Libyan Coast
Italy's coastguard said nine corpses were recovered in operations in which 6,055 people were rescued off Libya Monday, three years to the day after 366 people died in the sinking that first alerted the world to the Mediterranean migrant crisis.
In a poignant reminder of the ongoing drama being played out on Europe's southern shores, the coastguard coordinated the rescue of a total of 39 distressed vessels, the bulk of them overcrowded rubber dinghies but also including five converted fishing boats crammed full of people, mostly Africans.
Just under 200 minors were among those saved from one of the former fishing boats which had some 720 people on board, according to NGO SOS Mediterranee.
Most of the minors were unaccompanied and nine were under five years old. At least 10 of the 191 women on board were pregnant.
Two women and a child had to be evacuated for medical treatment after suffering severe burns caused by spilled fuel during a rescue from a rubber dinghy by a boat operated by the Doctors without Borders [MSF] charity.
A young pregnant woman died from her burns after being rescued during a second operation by the MSF boat dignity, the charity said.
"It is unacceptable that in 2016 these people have no other choice than to embark on these incredibly dangerous sea journeys," said MSF coordinator Nicolas Papachrysostomou.
The Italian coastguard said the operations had taken place in an area around 30 miles north of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
Separately, a Libyan coastguard official said that two children and nine women died on Monday when a small boat carrying migrants to Italy capsized off the shore of Libya.
It was unclear if the two fatal incidents were separate.
In the disaster three years ago, a fishing boat packed with some 500 people caught fire and sank rapidly in darkness just off the outlying Italian island of Lampedusa in the night of October 2-3.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team