Italy: 5600 migrants rescued off Libya in 48 hours

The Italian Navy has already rescued thousands of migrants whose vessels sank while they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya (AFP)

Another 3,000 migrants were rescued from stricken boats in waters off Libya on Tuesday, the Italian coastguard said, lifting the total saved in the space of 48 hours to 5,600.

The latest rescues, involving 23 different operations, will take to more than 37,000 the total number of people taken to southern Italian ports since the start of the year. (MORE DETAILS)

Coastguard boats, vessels from the EU's naval operation EUNAVFOR Med and its border agency Frontex, a boat from NGO SOS Mediterranee and two tug boats from an offshore oil platform were all involved in the rescue operations.

Every search and rescue asset in the area was deployed, the coastguard said.

No breakdown of the nationalities of the people rescued was immediately available.

The overwhelming majority of those arriving in Italy so far this year have been from sub-Saharan Africa, and officials say there is no sign yet of Middle Eastern refugees switching to the Libyan route to Europe en masse following moves to restrict access from Turkey via the Greek islands.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48