Italy says a total of 4,500 refugees have been rescued from rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean with the help of humanitarian bodies before another boat tragedy happens in high seas. An Italian coastguard spokesman said the refugees were brought to safety in about 40 rescue operations, backed by the navy and humanitarian organizations, in a single day on Thursday.
The body of a woman was also taken from a large rubber boat. The coastguard, which coordinates rescue operations, said it had deployed several boats to the sea. The Italian navy also said it had rescued 515 people from two boats. Earlier in the day, around two dozen refugee boats had been spotted in the sea about 20 nautical miles from the Libyan port city of Sabratha, according to the Topaz Responder, a ship run by the Malta-based humanitarian group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).
“The mass movement is probably the result of week-long, unfavorable weather conditions” that have come to an end, MOAS said. The group said it rescued 382 sub-Saharan African refugees from three different large rubber boats.