Ten reported dead as Italian rescuers pluck 1,900 migrants from sea

A shipwreck off the coast of Libya has claimed at least 10 lives, Italian media reported Friday, while authorities said close to 2,000 people were rescued in more than a dozen operations. 

The ANSA news agency said the Italian Navy and other rescue units had recovered the bodies and about 130 survivors from a partially sunken boat off the Libyan shore, and was looking for tens more missing passengers.

Neither Italy's navy nor its coastguard were immediately available for comment.

Earlier, the coastguard issued a statement saying it had coordinated 16 rescue operations, bringing to safety 1,900 migrants, also with the help of several tug boats, a passing merchant ship, non-governmental organizations' vessels and Italian navy units.

A coastguard spokesman separately told dpa that the total number of rescued migrants since the start of the week had risen to about 12,000. That compares with 1,641 arrivals last week, according to figures compiled by the International Organization for Migration.

The spokesman indicated that a 17th rescue operation was still ongoing, without clarifying whether it was the deadly incident reported by ANSA.

Most of Friday's rescues took place about 55 kilometres north of the Libyan city of Zuwarah, he added.

A migrant boat sank in that area on Thursday, prompting the rescue of 96 people, and officers from Eunavfor Med - the European Union naval mission which first rushed to the scene - said its units had spotted about 20 bodies at sea.

However, on Friday the Italian coastguard could not confirm that any of the bodies had been recovered.

The number of arrivals to Italy is expected to surge in the coming months as warmer weather facilitates more departures from Libya. But compared to 2015 figures, the number of migrant landings is broadly stable.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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