The Italian navy has released striking photos of a crowded migrant boat carrying more than 500 people capsizing in the Mediterranean. Some 1,370 migrants have died so far this year trying to reach Europe by boat.
The Italian navy ship Bettica responded to a distress call from an overcrowded fishing boat some 18 nautical miles off the coast of Libya on Wednesday.
More than 40,000 people have been intercepted in the Mediterranean and taken to Italian ports so far this year. That number is slightly less than the same time last year.
The rickety boat tipped over after migrants gathered on one side. Some migrants dived off the boat. Many had life jackets.
People swam away from the boat after it capsized. The navy said at least five people died. At least 1,370 migrants have died so far this year trying to make the boat journey to Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Another navy ship sent a helicopter to aid in the rescue. The Bettica threw life jackets and rafts into the water.
The navy said 562 people were rescued.
European officials are concerned that with the onset of better weather a fresh flood of migrants will try to make the dangerous journey from Libya to Europe. The majority of those using Libya as a springboard to reach Europe are from sub-Saharan Africa.
Officials say there is no sign yet that deterring Middle Eastern migrants from using the Balkan route has resulted in more people turning to the central Mediterranean route instead.