Italy’s coast guard says it has managed to rescue some 3,700 migrants in a single day from smugglers’ boats off the coast of Libya in 17 separate operations designed to stem the tide of illegal immigration to Europe from refugees leaving North Africa.
The operations took place just weeks after an estimated 800 migrants were drowned when their boat capsized en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Italy’s version of The Local news website said all the survivors were brought ashore in Italy and that some reached the island of Lampedusa. It quoted the coast guard as saying rescue operations were continuing on Sunday.
According to the website: “The mild spring weather and the calm summer seas are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 over last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection. At least 1,750 migrants have died so far this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.”