International charity ships and Libya’s coast guard were said to have picked up several hundred of migrantson Saturday as smugglers trying to take advantage of calm seas to launch a flurry of boats toward Italy.
Libyan coast guard vessels intercepted three of the migrant boats. The first was an inflatable dinghy that had broken down with 125 people on board off Zawiya, just west of the capital, Tripoli.
The second boat was returned back off Garabulli, east of Tripoli, and had 112 people on board, while a third boat with 98 migrants on board was also intercepted off Abu Kamash, near Libya’s border with Tunisia.
As at the time of making the rescue, one boat was close to sinking.
Also a fourth boat with more than 100 migrants on board made it as far as the Aquarius rescue ship about 21 miles from the coast to the west of Tripoli Lybia. The ship was preparing to transfer the migrants to Italy.
Rescuers on board the Aquarius said the migrant boat was on the verge of sinking when it reached them. More than half the migrants were Nigerians, the rest were from other sub-Saharan African countries as well as two Palestinians.