Italy rescues 3,300 migrants in a day • 17 bodies recovered

British navy warship takes ashore 741 people in the coastal city of Taranto on Saturday morning

Italy helped rescue a total of more than 3,300 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean on Friday, the country's coastguard has said.

In one operation, 17 bodies were found on three boats. Another 217 people who were on board were rescued. The coastguard said distress calls were made from 17 different boats on Friday.

British navy warship HMS Bulwark carried 741 people, rescued from overcrowded, rickety vessels. More than 360 of the migrants were plucked to safety when crew spotted an overloaded, wooden craft trying to cross waters north of Libya on Thursday.

HMS Bulwark's Commanding Officer Captain Nick Cooke-Priest said he was sure the migrants would have died without help. He said some of the children were "horrifyingly young".

So far, the busiest days this year have been the rescue of 3,791 migrants on 12 April and 3,690 on 2 May.

The 17 bodies were found on three dinghies, from which more than 300 migrants were rescued alive, the Italian navy said on Twitter.

There was no information on how they died. In previous incidents, migrants have died from hunger, thirst and violence on board the often crammed and flimsy vessels.

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