More than 4,200 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean on Friday, said the Italian coastguard. 17 people have been found dead, as several rescue operations were taking place on Friday night.
The Coast Guard, which coordinates the rescue operations in the Mediterranean, said on Friday evening that it has received emergency calls from 22 boats.
Eleven of the bodies that were found dead by rescuers, was discovered when 86 migrants from two rubber boats were rescued by the Italian patrol ship Bettica, said the Navy on Twitter.
It is still unclear what was the cause of deaths.
On Thursday, over 700 migrants who had set out from Libya in six boats, were rescued by Irish, German and British naval vessels participating in the EU operation Triton.
So far this year, around 1,770 migrants have lost their lives in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe, according to a summary of the Organization of Migration (IOM). That is 30 times as many as in the same period last year. The last 18 months over 5,000 have died on the perilous journey.
A big surprise
So far this year more than 40,000 people have arrived by sea to Italy. This week a 93 year old man from Syria was among 200 people who were rescued in the Mediterranean by the Italian Navy, according to Save the Children.
The man was transported to the port of Augusta on the island of Sicily and seemed to be in good shape, according to the organization.
It is very unusual to find older people among those who cross the Mediterranean in boats. The vast majority are men between 20 and 40 years.
The total number of people rescued in 24 hours is one of the highest in recent years but the coastguard could not confirm if it was a record.
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