A total of 85 migrants were rescued from the sinking wooden boat off the coast of Malta. The Mediterranean island has been allowing more migrants on its shores in response to pressure from Italy.
A Maltese patrol boat rescued 85 migrants off the coast of Malta late Friday night, Malta's military said. The migrants are expected to arrive in Malta later on Saturday.
The group is believed to have originated in North and Eastern Africa. Their rescue comes after at least 65 migrants drowned Friday when a smuggling boat capsized off the Tunisian coast.
Malta has been at the forefront of recent efforts to distribute rescued migrants among EU member states amid Italy's refusal to allow rescue ships to dock in its ports.
The anti-migrant government in Rome has been taking an increasingly harder line on the issue. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini recently signed a new directive banning charity vessels from rescuing migrants off Libya.
Malta's migration challenge
On April 13, Malta allowed a German NGO rescue ship, Alan Kurdi, to disembark some 60 migrants after being refused entry in Italy. The migrants were then sent to Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg.
The EU's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, visited Malta on Tuesday to praise its response to irregular migration in the Mediterranean.
"Without a doubt, Malta is facing great migration challenges compared to the size of the population," he said.
wmr/amp (dpa, Reuters)