Italy rescues over 3,300 migrants from Med as fine weather sees smuggling surge

More than 3,300 migrants adrift on boats in the Mediterranean have been rescued by Italian coastguard and navy ships. The rescues involved migrants on 25 rubber dinghies and one boat. The Italian navy says Libya-based smugglers have been exploiting a spell of good weather and calm seas to launch boats full of migrants toward Italian shores. The migrants were picked up in an area 35 miles (55 kilometres) north of the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha.

One adult was found dead and another four injured migrants were transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital (on the island of Lampedusa).

Italian Navy spokesman

Last week, thousands of migrants were rescued off Libya, including around 5,000 in one day, after a period of rough seas had prevented the smugglers from launching boats from North Africa. Most of the recently rescued migrants are thought to have come from countries in West Africa, including Ghana, Liberia, and Guinea. More than 66,000 migrants, mostly from Africa, have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016, according to figures compiled by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR. The International Organisation for Migration said more than 3,700 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year.