THE bodies of at least 34 migrants, many of them young children, have been recovered from the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast.
Some 200 people tumbled into rough waters when their overcrowded people smugglers’ boat capsized on Wednesday, the Italian coast guard said.
“Many of the bodies are small toddlers,” tweeted Chris Catambrone of the non-profit group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which was helping in the rescue effort.
MOAS tweeted photos showing survivors in orange life vests bobbing in Mediterranean waters as they awaited rescue.
“The immediate intervention of the coast guard boat Fiorillo and the MOAS boat Phoenix permitted the rescue of the majority of the migrants who had fallen into the water,” the Italian coast guard said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the coast guard said some 200 of 500 migrants aboard had fallen into the sea, either because a big wave hit the vessel or many migrants suddenly shifted to one side.
The capsizing incident was one of several rescue operations co-ordinated by the Italian coast guard. In all, some 1,800 migrants were rescued Wednesday from unseaworthy dinghies or wooden fishing boats. A commercial tugboat and three cargo ships in the vicinity were pressed into service to save lives, along with vessels from the Italian navy, a European patrol force and non-profit vessels, the coast guard said.