(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The Italian Navy reported that seven migrants have drowned off the Libyan coast on Wednesday after the overcrowded fishing boat they were crossing the Mediterranean Sea in to reach Europe overturned.
More than 550 migrants have been rescued at sea by Italian navy patrol boat Bettica, who saw the boat in distress before it overturned due to the high number of people on board.
In another rescue operation, the Italian navy intercepted another boat with 108 migrants on board, bringing Wednesday’s total number of migrants rescued to over 650.
The Italian navy issued a statement that shortly after the Bettica spotted the boat full of migrants, it “overturned due to overcrowding. The Bettica, which had arrived nearby, threw life-rafts and jackets” to the migrants in the water, while another navy ship in the area sent a helicopter and rescue boats.
On Tuesday, workers on a Libyan oil tanker helped rescue 135 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.
In a similar story, on Tuesday the Libyan coast guard had intercepted 550 migrants trying to reach Europe in unsafe and overcrowded vessels.
Libyan Navy spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem told the AFP, “coast guards in the west who were patrolling off the Zawiya refinery on Tuesday intercepted four large inflatables carrying around 550 illegal migrants.”
Qassem stated that the migrants came from “several African countries” and included three children and 30 women, eight of whom are pregnant.
“The migrants have been handed over to the relevant authorities to be taken to detention centers,” Qassem told the AFP.
Similarly, on Sunday, the Libyan coast guard detained 850 migrants traveling in seven inflatable rubber boats trying to cross the Mediterranean off the coast of Sabratha.
This week has seen a rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe as weather conditions improve, with the total number of migrants rescued in the past few days reaching over 7,000.