France, Italy save hundreds off Libya coast

French patrol boat saved 217 people while Italian Coast Guard and navy rescued 1,200 others from sea off Libya

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A French patrol boat and ships from the Italian Coast Guard and navy on Saturday saved more than 1,417 of migrants off the Libyan coast.

The French boat rescued 217 people from the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast, maritime authorities said, adding that the rescued migrants had been on board three boats.


The authorities said two suspected people smugglers were also caught and will be transferred to Italian authorities.

Meanwhile, Italian ships have rescued more than 1,200 migrants after smugglers' boats ran into trouble in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya.

Italian officials say the migrants were being taken Saturday to Italian ports after several different rescue operations, including helping some 200 people aboard motorized rubber dinghies a day earlier south of Sicily.

The smugglers' boats had set out in a spell of warm, calm weather.

Two weeks earlier, a fishing boat in which smugglers had crammed an estimated 800 people capsized in what is the largest known loss of life in a single boat accident involving migrants trying to reach Italian shores.

There were only 28 survivors.

The deaths prompted a humanitarian outcry and a European Union pledge to boost rescue efforts.

(With AFP and Associated Press)

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