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Nearly 4,700 Migrants Were Rescued Off Libya's Coast in a Single Day

One woman was found dead as the Italian coast guard and others staged 20 separate operations to rescue migrants stranded in the Mediterranean.
Photo via Guardia Costiera/EPA

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Nearly 4,700 migrants and refugees stranded in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya were rescued in 20 separate Italian coast guard operations on Saturday, with one woman found reportedly dead on one of the boats.

Tens of thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa have tried to reach Europe via Mediterranean this year, and they are often packed by smugglers onto small, unreliable vessels.


Italy's coast guard said in a statement that 4,343 migrants were rescued from rubber boats and barges, and another 335 people were picked up as part of a rescue mission coordinated by Greece. The coast guard also reported a woman's body was found in one of the inflatable boats, but did not specify a possible cause of death.

Related: Libya's Migrant Cattle Trade: One Refugee's Story

Humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders told AFP that its ship Bourbon Argos rescued more than 800 people.

"We started before first light this morning with our first rescue. We rescued two wooden fishing boats and two rubber dinghies," Doctors Without Borders told AFP.

The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a merchant boat, a Croatian vessel under the European Union's Triton rescue mission, and ships from Germany and Britain working as part of EU naval operation against human smugglers and traffickers were also involved in the rescue efforts.

Another 102 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean by Libyan authorities on Friday, with seven found dead and 124 people detained as they prepared to cross to Europe.

Doctors Without Borders said individuals from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and West Africa were among those rescued on Saturday.

Follow Atoosa Moinzadeh on Twitter: @amoinzadeh

Watch the VICE News documentary Libya's Migrant Trade: Europe or Die: