Nearly 600 migrants were rescued during the night of Monday to Tuesday about 100 kilometers off Calabria, in the toe of Italy, announced the Italian coast guard. One body was found of a person who was reported to have been dead for several days.
The Italian coast guard rescued 573 migrants who were trying to reach Europe aboard two fishing boats in distress in bad weather, during the night of Monday to Tuesday, February 22.
The shipwrecked migrants were about 100 kilometers from Calabria "in difficulty on board two overloaded fishing boats," said a statement from the coast guard. They were "at the mercy of the waves, in adverse weather conditions and expected to worsen in the following hours."
A large ship, the Diciotti, as well as three coast guard patrol boats took part in this rescue operation carried out in the Italian jurisdiction (SAR, search and rescue). The migrants were all transferred to the Diciotti.
Read more: Ocean Viking migrants disembark in Sicily, 129 rescued off Libya
One person dead for several days
"Among the people rescued was a deceased person who, according to the migrants, had been dead for several days," the coast guard said.
The group of rescued migrants included 59 minors, many of them unaccompanied. One person had to be transferred urgently to land because of his deteriorating health condition.
The Diciotti is currently heading towards the Sicilian port of Augusta where the migrants will disembarked.
Read more: Inquiry into Libyan boat collision with migrant dinghy
165 deaths since the start of 2022
Despite the bad weather at sea, this year does not seem to have discouraged migrants from trying to reach Europe by sea. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 10,570 people have already successfully made the crossing since the beginning of the year. During the same time period, at least 165 have died while they were making their attempt.
Including all those who also arrived by land, a total of at least 11,986 migrants have reached Europe since the beginning of 2022, according to IOM figures.
Last weekend, 247 migrants rescued by the Ocean Viking off the coast of Libya disembarked in Sicily, after staying on board the humanitarian ship for a week.