More than 6,500 migrants rescued at sea off Libyan coast

A wooden boat filled with men, women and many children, some of them without life jackets were rescued off the coast of Libya.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva approaches an overcrowded wooden vessel with migrants from Eritrea, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 29, 2016.

About 6,500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday, the Italian coastguard said, in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years.

Dramatic images showed migrants wearing life jackets jumping off one of their boats into the Mediterranean and swimming toward rescuers.

Among the rescued migrants were infants and small children. A long life buoy had also been thrown into the water for the migrants to cling to.

Migrants from Eritrea are seen onboard a rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 29, 2016.

"The command centre coordinated 40 rescue operations" that included vessels from Italy, humanitarian organisations as well as the EU's border agency Frontex, and "saved 6,500 migrants", the coastguard wrote on Twitter.

The Italian coast guard and aid agency Medicins Sans Frontiers were expected to transfer them to the Italian mainland or Sicily.

On Sunday more than 1,100 migrants from Somalia were rescued in the same area, though August has been slightly less busy than years past.

Latest data from the International Organization for Migration, released on Friday (August 26), said some 105,342 migrants have reached Italy by boat this year, many of them setting sail from Libya.

A member of the Spanish NGO Proactiva rescues a Somali migrant that fell from an overcrowded dinghy, during a rescue operation off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea August 28 , 2016.

The instability in Libya has made the country a hub for people-trafficking.

An estimated 2,726 men, women and children have died over the same period trying to make the journey, often dangerously packed into small vessels unsuitable for the voyage.

Italy has been on the front line of Europe's migrant crisis for three years, and more than 400,000 have successfully made the voyage to Italy from North Africa since the beginning of 2014, fleeing violence and poverty. 

TRTWorld and agencies