Hundreds rescued off Libya’s coast

Over 1,300 people rescued by Spanish and Italian ships during rescue operations on Saturday

People on a dinghy get rescued by 'Save the Children' NGO crew from the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya's coast, June 17, 2017
People on a dinghy get rescued by 'Save the Children' NGO crew from the ship Vos Hestia in the Mediterranean sea off Libya's coast, June 17, 2017

Hundreds of people, some of them drifting in rubber dinghies off the coast of Libya, were rescued by Spanish and Italian ships on Saturday, adding to a lengthening list of rescue operations in recent days.

A Spanish navy ship was dispatched to help two boats struggling to stay afloat near Libya on Saturday afternoon, and at sundown it found three other rubber dinghies transporting people in the area, Spain's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

It said that a total of 526 people, including eight pregnant women and nine children, were picked up in that rescue, aided by a ship belonging to a non-governmental organization.

Meanwhile, Italy's coastguard said that a total of around 800 people were rescued from rubber boats in six operations in the Mediterranean on Saturday.

Libya's coastguard had already intercepted 906 people on board damaged wooden and rubber boats on Friday, and earlier in the week humanitarian rescue ships picked up more than 1,000 off Libya's shores.

The sea crossing between Libya and Italy has been attempted by an increasing number of people trying to reach Europe this year.

Arrivals of migrants to Italy are up almost 18% on the same period last year at more than 65,000, Italy's Interior Ministry said earlier this week.

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