Baku, August 24, AZERTAC
Around 4,400 migrants were rescued over the past 24 hours from 22 boats and rubber dinghies in distress in the central Mediterranean, the Italian coast guard said in a statement, albawaba.com informs.
The Italian navy and customs police, Irish and Norwegian boats part of the Triton border patrol mission, coordinated by the European Union, as well as a ship from another EU operation, the Euvnavfor, helped with the rescues, the coast guard said.
A spokesman for the Italian office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Flavio Di Giacomo, gave a slightly lower tally. Writing on Twitter, he said 4,150 people were picked up in the waters between Sicily and North Africa.
The rescued were being taken to Italian land, the ANSA news agency reported. Some 548 migrants were set to land in Palermo, Sicily, on Monday, and 935 were likely going to arrive on the same day in Cagliari, Sardinia.
The coast guard said three more rescue operations were ongoing Sunday. Three passing cargo ships were diverted to go rescue three distressed vessels carrying a yet-to-be-announced number of migrants.
Italy, along with Greece, is usually the first port of call for Europe-bound migrants taking the sea route and hoping to travel on and settle in wealthier nations like Germany.
The IOM estimates that from January 1 to August 20 more than 149,000 sea migrants landed in Greece and almost 104,000 arrived in Italy. It also reports that 2,365 migrants died at sea - up from 1,779 in the same period of 2014.