Italy reports 3,600 migrant rescues in two days

Migrants wait to disembark from tug boat Asso29 in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, southern Italy, May 4, 2015. REUTERS/ANTONIO PARRINELLO

Reuters — Almost 3,600 migrants have been rescued from overcrowded boats sailing from Africa to Europe over the past 48 hours, Italy said on Thursday, with sea conditions seen as perfect for attempting the crossing.

As more than 600 migrants were brought ashore at the port of Catania in Sicily, rescuers plucked another 2,500 from rickety boats off the coast of Libya, the coast guard said.

Most of those who arrived in Catania had been picked up by the British warship HMS Bulwark and were Somali and Nigerian, port officials said.

With Libya engulfed in strife, people smugglers are increasingly free to pack migrants onto unsafe boats, and they are expected to push total arrivals in Italy for 2015 to 200,000, an increase of 30,000 on last year, according to an Interior Ministry projection…

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