An Irish navy ship recovered 17 dead bodies on Thursday when it went to the aid of migrants packed onto a wooden boat off the coast of Libya, Italy’s coastguard said, marking another deadly day of attempted sea crossings.
The LE James Joyce, which is in the Mediterranean specifically to perform search-and-rescue operations, brought on board the bodies of 16 men and one boy, a coastguard spokesman said. He could provide no further details about the cause of death or the nationalities of the dead.
On Wednesday, 22 bodies were recovered from a rubber boat off the Libyan coast, and some 3,000 are dead or missing after trying to reach the European Union by sea so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration estimates.
The LE James Joyce, an Italian navy vessel, a British ship participating in an EU anti-people smuggling operation, and a vessel operated by a humanitarian group also brought 1,128 migrants to safety on Thursday, the coastguard said.
There has been a jump in the number of migrants who people smugglers have put onto overcrowded boats in Libya this week amid calm seas and hot summer weather.
On Tuesday alone, some 3,200 migrants were rescued at sea and one dead body was recovered.
With Europe’s migrant crisis in its third year, the Mediterranean has become the world’s most dangerous border for migrants.
More than 84,000 have crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy so far this year, in line with the number who came over during the same period last year, according to official data.
That brings the total number of migrants to have reached Italy by to more than 400,000 since the beginning of 2014.