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Italian coastguard and navy rescue 3,300 migrants off coast of Libya

A series of operations have been carried out off the coast of Libya to rescue migrants from inflatable boats. The 3,324 people are being taken to southern Italian ports.

Italian coastguard and navy boats took part in 26 operations off the coast of Libya on Sunday to rescue a total of 3,324 migrants. Including Sunday's operations, over 10,000 people have been rescued in the area since last Thursday.

The rescues were all carried out within 55 kilometers (35 miles) of the Libyan coast where the migrants were found on rubber dinghies and one wooden boat. The migrants are believed to have come from West African countries, including Liberia, Ghana and Guinea. It is not yet known if they will be able to stay in Europe.

A navy spokesperson said one adult was found dead while another four injured migrants were transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital on the island of Lampedusa.

Agencies involved in the rescues included the EU military operation known as European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med) Operation Sophia, the EU border agency Frontex, and the charities Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Sea Watch.

All the migrants were being transferred to southern Italian ports. Including Sunday's rescues, over 66,000 mostly African migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of 2016, according to figures compiled by the UN refugee agency.

The rate at which people are arriving is in line with the pattern from last year. Officials said the

high figures of last week

were due to calm sea conditions, which make it less of a risk to send the overcrowded boats out to sea from Libya's ports.

More than 3,700 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

jm/rs (Reuters, EFE, AFP)

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