Italian navy rescues a record 4,400 migrants off Libya

Updated - November 17, 2021 11:07 am IST

Published - August 23, 2015 04:51 pm IST - Rome

Italy’s coast guard says it coordinated the rescue of some 4,400 migrants in a single day, a record-setting number, as smugglers took advantage of ideal sea conditions off Libya to launch a fleet of overcrowded, unseaworthy boats.

The coast guard on Sunday said 22 rescue operations were carried out a day earlier for motorised rubber dinghies and fishing boats, all crammed with migrants desperate to reach Europe’s southern shores.

Italian coast guard, navy and border police boats pitched in, as did Norwegian and Irish naval vessels deployed in a European patrol-and-rescue force. Boats in distress use satellite phones to call coast guard rescuers or are spotted by patrolling Italian military aircraft.

So far this year, some 110,000 migrants have been rescued off Libya and brought to southern Italian ports.

Saturday's total was thought to be the highest for a single day in recent years as calm conditions encouraged people smugglers to leave Libya with boats stuffed with as many paying passengers on board as possible.

Boats from the Italian coastguard, navy and customs police all took part in the rescue operation alongside Norway's Siem Pilot and Ireland's Niamh, ships serving with the EU's Triton search and rescue mission. The rescued migrants will be deposited at southern Italian ports from later on Sunday onwards and the new arrivals will lift to more than 108,000 the number of asylum seekers and other migrants to have arrived in Italy this year.

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