Italian ship rescues 65 people from migrant boat

A supply ship off the coast of Italy on Saturday rescued 65 migrants, including women and children, who had fled Libya for Europe in overcrowded wooden boats.

The migrant boat drifted after its engine died and was spotted by the Seabird, an NGO monitoring plane flying over the central Mediterranean region. Those on the boat were not wearing life vests and were eventually rescued in international waters by supply ship Asso Ventinove near the Bouri oil field following a request from Seabird. An Associated Press journalist who flew with the Seabird witnessed the rescue.

A Libyan coast guard ship arrived at the scene shortly after to inspect the empty ship. It has been the custom of the Libyan authorities to retrieve the boat’s engines after the rescue.

So far this year some 44,000 people have reached European shores by crossing the Mediterranean from Tunisia and Libya, often via smugglers who put them in unseaworthy boats. About half of them arrived at Lampedusa, an Italian island closer to North Africa than to Italy.

Despite the increasing number of arrivals, many of the migrants fail to reach their destination. [lt/ka]

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