Rescue boats recover 17 migrant bodies off Italy

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The latest arrivals take the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year to over 80,000. Photo: Giovanni Isolino/AFP
08:18 CEST+02:00
Over 1,000 migrants were pulled to safety from rickety vessels in the Mediterranean on Thursday by rescuers who also recovered 17 bodies, Italy's coastguard said.

Around 1,128 people were plucked from five rubber dinghies and three boats in the Strait of Sicily, the coastguard said, without specifying whether the bodies were discovered on one or more of the vessels.

The migrants were picked up by the Grecale Italian navy ship, Britain's HMS Enterprise - operating under the EU's naval mission to tackle people smuggling, the Irish navy's James Joyce patrol boat and a vessel chartered by German NGO Sea-Watch.

Rescue teams had discovered 22 bodies - 21 women and a man - on a dinghy in the Mediterranean on Wednesday.

A day earlier, more than 3,200 migrants were rescued in 25 separate operations as departures from the coast of North Africa continued unabated thanks to good weather and calm seas.

The latest arrivals take the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year to over 80,000, according to the UN's refugee agency.

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Since 2014, more than 10,000 migrants have died or are feared to have drowned while attempting the perilous journey to Europe by sea, most losing their lives in the central Mediterranean, the UNHCR says.

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