ROME: Around 3,000 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya today as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, the Italian coastguard said.
"After some calm days, migrants are arriving in large numbers, taking advantage of a window of favourable weather," said a coastguard official. The rescue was undertaken in 22 separate operations coordinated by the Italian coastguard.
One participant was the Aquarius, a humanitarian ship run by the NGO SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which said it saved 946 people, including 200 unaccompanied minors. An MSF video showed three young children smiling and dancing on the ship to the sound of drumming.
The migrants rescued by the Aquarius had been found drifting on nine wooden and rubber boats. According to the Italian government, 16,206 people have been rescued in the sea by Friday -- compared to 11,911 by the same time last year.