Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

CORRECTED: Seven migrants confirmed dead in Mediterranean rescue

CORRECTED: Seven migrants confirmed dead in Mediterranean rescue

A total of 2,074 people brought to safety in a day of non-stop rescues of those stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

ROME Seven migrants died in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya while trying to reach Europe on Sunday, an official of a rescue ship said.

So far today #Prudence and #Aquarius have saved ~1000 #people in 9 different boats from the sea.

Europe is now experiencing a dire migration crisis, and struggles to accommodate hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to enter wealthy European Union member states through various routes, including via Turkey, Italy and Greece.

After a long and hard day like this one, these voices and songs of joy and happiness are our best reward.

Hailing mainly from sub-Saharan countries, most of the migrants board boats operated by people traffickers in western Libya, and make for the Italian island of Lampedusa 300 kilometres (190 miles) away.

Friday had already seen some 2,000 people rescued while the body of one young man was found, presumed asphyxiated, aboard one vessel bursting with people. Some 97 migrants are missing in that incident.

So far this year, some 29,000 migrants, majority fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy after being rescued by European military ships or private charity organizations. Of that, more than 650 have died.

The EU border control agency Frontex has accused non-government groups rescuing migrants of acting "like taxis". "We have never had to deal with so many people at the same time".

Those frustrations are echoed by the other NGOs, with numerous rescue operators tweeting accusations directly against the European Union and Frontex. "Every day people continue to risk their lives while we, as civil society, stand witness". The boat was due to arrive in the port city of Argostoli in the early evening. "We know we need to be out there, we have to be out there". It is a miracle that we have managed to rescue everyone with no casualties today. In 2017, the sea continues to be a graveyard.

A crewman of the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship Phoenix tends to an unconscious migrant.

Video footage showed rescuers jumping into the water off the coast of Libya to help them.

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