Italy's coast guard says it coordinated the rescue of some 4,400 migrants in a single day, a record-setting number, as smugglers took advantage of ideal sea conditions off Libya to launch a fleet of overcrowded, unseaworthy boats.
The coast guard today said 22 rescue operations were carried out a day earlier for motorized rubber dinghies and fishing boats, all crammed with migrants desperate to reach Europe's southern shores.
Italian coast guard, navy and border police boats pitched in, as did Norwegian and Irish naval vessels deployed in a European patrol-and-rescue force. Boats in distress use satellite phones to call coast guard rescuers or are spotted by patrolling Italian military aircraft. So far this year, some 110,000 migrants have been rescued off Libya and brought to southern Italian ports.