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700 refugees rescued off Libya coast

April 5, 2017 at 9:49 pm

A rubber boat carrying around fifty migrants and refugees [Red Cross/Flickr]

More than 700 refugees and migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya as they attempted to make the perilous journey to Europe, Italy’s coast guard announced.

The refugees and migrants were aboard seven flimsy overcrowded boats when they were picked up.

The Phoenix rescue ship, operated by the Malta-based non-governmental organisation MOAS, rescued more than 300 people from three boats in international waters off the coast of the Libyan city of Sabratha.

The Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders, went to the aid of four rubber boats, a coast guard spokesman said. Italy’s coast guard coordinated the rescues.

Migrants arriving in Italy on boats from North Africa are up some 30 per cent so far this year, according to official data released last week.

Some 600 people have died trying to reach Italy this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. No bodies were found today, the coast guard said.