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Italy plucks 2,000 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea

Associated Press logo Associated Press 15/04/2017 By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press
Migrants aboard the Golfo Azurro rescue vessel wait to be transferred to Italian authorities in Trapani harbor, on the Italian island of Sicily, Saturday, April 8, 2017. Most migrants on the Mediterranean are now trying to reach Italy. Those numbers have dramatically increased since the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement last year that allowed Greece to send new asylum-seekers back to Turkey. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) © The Associated Press Migrants aboard the Golfo Azurro rescue vessel wait to be transferred to Italian authorities in Trapani harbor, on the Italian island of Sicily, Saturday, April 8, 2017. Most migrants on the Mediterranean are now trying to reach Italy. Those numbers have dramatically increased since the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement last year that allowed Greece to send new asylum-seekers back to Turkey. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

ROME — Italian rescue ships have plucked some 2,000 migrants from unseaworthy smugglers' boats off the coast of Libya, with hundreds of them arriving Saturday in southern Italian ports.

One rescue ship brought 504 migrants and one corpse to Pozzallo, Sicily, and another boat brought about 500 other migrants to Augusta, Sicily.

In all, Italy's coast guard coordinated about 20 separate rescues on Friday. The rest of the migrants were due to reach Calabria on the Italian mainland on Sunday.

Separately, authorities said Saturday that 40 Algerians in three small boats had reached Sardinia's coast.

So far this year, some 29,000 migrants, most of them fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy after being rescued by European military ships or private charity organizations. Their numbers are expected to rise with spring's good weather.

In Spain, the country's maritime rescue said Saturday it had rescued 125 migrants in three small boats trying to make nighttime crossings from Africa in three smuggling boats.

The first boat, carrying 41 men and 11 women of sub-Saharan origin, was located by rescue teams shortly after midnight in the Alboran Sea east of the Strait of Gibraltar. A second group of 62 North African males, including 11 minors, was packed into a wooden boat when rescued just west of the Strait in the Atlantic Ocean.

Eleven more migrants were pulled from a small vessel in the Mediterranean Sea after a NATO aircraft alerted the rescue service.

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Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this story.

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