Thousands of migrants rescued from Mediterranean in three days
Italian authorities were still bringing migrants and refugees to shore Monday after one of the busiest weekends ever for rescue services operating in the central Mediterranean sea.
At least 8,500 refugees and migrants were plucked from small boats over the past three days in 73 separate rescue operations, the Italian Coastguard told CNN Monday.
Thirteen bodies were recovered, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old boy. It is not known how many died before they were sighted.
One 35-year-old woman from the Ivory Coast was giving birth as she was pulled aboard a rescue ship, Italian newspapers reported.
The youngest migrant rescued over the weekend was just two weeks old. Asar was rescued along with her mother by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).
The Sea-Eye, a German charity boat that helped bring to safety hundreds of people stranded on rubber dinghies off the coast of Libya Sunday said in a statement it still had 210 on board “crowded closely together, exposed to the wind, the waves and the cold without protection.
It said the Italian tanker La Donna and the coast guard ship CP920 was now accompanying the boat, whilst it waits for two smaller boats from the Italian island of Lampedusa, to bring the migrants to shore.
The Italian Coastguard said 1004 migrants rescued on the board the ship the Panther would be disembarked in Messina in Sicily shortly.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said in a statement it rescued more than 1,400 migrants in the central Mediterranean in 13 search and rescue operations from Friday to Sunday.
Charities such as Medicins Sans Frontieres criticized the EU response to the growing crisis in the Mediterranean over the weekend.