Ships rescued 3,690 migrants in just one day from smugglers' boats on the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, the Italian Coast Guard said today. The agency said 17 different rescue operations were carried out yesterday after smugglers took advantage of calm seas and warm weather to move the migrants out of Africa on motorized rubber dinghies and fishing boats. Some of the migrants were being brought today to ports in Sicily while others were expected to reach Calabria tomorrow, as temporary shelters for those rescued were reaching full capacity on the Mediterranean island. One week last month saw a greater death toll than the Titanic.
While there was no issue with the weather, smugglers often use aging vessels that sometimes begin leaking shortly after leaving Libya. Boats are crammed with too many people as traffickers try to maximize earnings off the migrants, who pay hundreds of dollars for the passage between the Mediterranean's southern shore and Italy. It is not uncommon for thousands of migrants to be rescued over a day or two. The relentless flood of migrants is continuing this year after 170,000 were rescued at sea by Italy in 2014—a 277% increase over 2013. Italy has pressed the EU to do more to help it save the migrants, especially since many are asylum seekers hoping to reach relatives in northern Europe. Overall, a record 280,000 illegal border crossings were detected in the 28-nation EU last year, according to Frontex, Europe's border agency. (Read more migrants stories.)