6,500 refugees rescued in a day off Libya

Rome: The Italian coastguard said it had coordinated the rescue on Monday of about 6,500 refugees off Libya in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years.

Dramatic images showed refugees wearing life jackets jumping off one of their boats into the Mediterranean and swimming toward rescuers.

“The command centre coordinated 40 rescue operations” that included vessels from Italy, humanitarian organisations as well as the EU’s border agency Frontex, and “saved 6,500 migrants”, the coastguard wrote on Twitter.

On Sunday more than 1,100 refugees were rescued in the same area, though August has been slightly less busy than years past. The total number of arrivals in Italy this year, prior to Monday’s rescues, was at around 105,000, according to the UN refugee agency.

More than 3,000 refeugees have died at sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 per cent on the same period in 2015.