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Major Rescue Effort Off Libyan Coast Saves 6,500 Migrants

  • VOA News

A rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva approaches an overcrowded wooden vessel with migrants from Eritrea, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea, August 29, 2016.

A rescue boat of the Spanish NGO Proactiva approaches an overcrowded wooden vessel with migrants from Eritrea, off the Libyan coast in Mediterranean Sea, August 29, 2016.

In a series of 40 rescue missions launched off the northern coast of Libya Monday, Italian Coast Guard personnel and several partner agencies saved around 6,500 migrants said to be traveling from Somalia and Eritrea, according to the coast guard.

The rescue effort, which was captured on video, shows desperate migrants jumping off of fishing boats to swim to the coast guard vessels and others cheering as babies and children are carried on to the rescue ships.

The mission Monday was a coordinated effort between the Italian coast guard, Doctors Without Borders and the EU’s border control agency, Frontex.

The AP reports that the migrants knew the 20 small wooden boats they used to cross the Mediterranean were too weak to make the trip, but left anyway, with the hopes of making it to the rescue boats, which were waiting just about 20 kilometers out to sea.

A similar rescue operation took place in the same area on Sunday and saw more than 1,100 migrants rescued.

So far this year, around 106,000 migrants have made the successful trip to Italy, while another 2,726 died while attempting to make the trip, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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