Over 3,000 migrants rescued by Italy

June 7, 2014 - Mediterranean Sea / Italy: Italian navy rescues asylum seekers traveling by boat off the coast of Africa. More than 2,000 migrants jammed in 25 boats arrived in Italy June 12, ending an international operation to rescue asylum seekers traveling from Libya. They were taken to three Italian ports and likely to be transferred to refugee centers inland. Hundreds of women and dozens of babies, were rescued by the frigate FREMM Bergamini as part of the Italian navy's "Mare Nostrum" operation, launched last year after two boats sank and more than 400 drowned. Favorable weather is encouraging thousands of migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries to arrive on the Italian coast in the coming days. Cost of passage is in the 2,500 Euros range for Africans and 3,500 for Middle Easterners, per person. Over 50,000 migrants have landed Italy in 2014. Many thousands are in Libya waiting to make the crossing. (Massimo Sestini/Polaris)

Italian coastguard and navy ships rescued over 3,300 migrants in 26 separate operations in the Mediterranean over the weekend, a spokesperson for the Italian navy said on Sunday.

The people were picked up from 25 dinghies and one boat, all north of the Libyan coast, the Coast Guard said in a separate statement.

The navy spokesperson said one adult was found dead and another four injured migrants were transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital, on the island of Lampedusa.

Italy is on the front line of Europe’s worst immigration crisis since World War Two, with little sign of any slowdown in the flow of people coming from North Africa.

About 60,000 boat migrants have been brought to Italy so far this year, according to the Interior Ministry.

On Friday ship crews rescued more than 2,000 people from overcrowded boats.

Improved weather conditions in the Mediterranean encourage more migrants and their human smugglers to attempt the crossing despite the dangers involved. More than 3,700 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Reuters/Ime Njoku