Italian rescue ships save about 2000 migrants

Doctors without Borders (MSF) said its rescue boats Prudence and Aquarius had rescued about 1,000 people during Friday's operations, during which one migrant is believed to have died.

"The sea continues to be a graveyard", charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a tweet.

Libya has become a major avenue of migration, with thousands braving the unsafe sea crossing to Europe.

A 12-year-old survivor from Ivory Coast - now being accommodated at the Maitiga detention centre in the Libyan capital Tripoli - told the BBC that "the boat broke and my mother died".

These figures suggested a 30 per cent increase in migrant arrivals compared to the same period in 2016.

Chris Catrambone, co-founder of the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), said "the discrepancy was due to confusion" in communication between two ships involved in the rescue operation. She added that the number of incoming refugees was expected to rise owing to the fine spring weather.

A rescue ship on Saturday brought 504 migrants and one corpse to Pozzallo, Sicily, and while another boat brought about 500 other migrants to Augusta, Sicily.

Just 23 men were rescued, clinging to a flotation device. Mass drownings are common when the overloaded boats capsize or sink.

Libyan Red Crescent volunteers are seen near the bodies of 74 refugees that were washed ashore, near Zawiyah, on Libya's northern coast, on February 20, 2017. Also around 5 more rubber boats coming northwards in our direction.

Earlier this week the International Organization for Migration said almost 32,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 9 April, with over 80% arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. An estimated 826 are dead, or missing.

The migrants include Pakistanis, Syrians, Sri Lankans and Iranians.