ROME (AP) — Rescue boats recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and plucked 1,128 survivors from the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily on Thursday, a day after 22 corpses were found at the bottom of a smugglers’ boat.
The Italian coast guard, which coordinated Thursday’s rescues, said the operation took on survivors from five rubber motorized dinghies, a larger boat and two small boats. Those rescues took place as a separate vessel was bringing the bodies of the 17 discovered a day earlier toward Sicily, where the corpses were expected to arrive Friday.
The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, meanwhile, said the bodies of 21 women and one man were found in a pool of fuel at the bottom of another smugglers’ boat. That same rescue effort saved 209 people who were aboard two rubber dinghies.
By Thursday evening, the coast guard reported that nearly 1,700 migrants had been rescued in a two-day period.
Vessels from non-government organizations, national military fleets and passing cargo ships have been rescuing migrants daily from unseaworthy smuggling boats launched from Libya’s lawless shores. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have been rescued in the past few years.