Some 400 migrants saved in Mediterranean

Rome, Dec 22 (IANS/AKI) Around 400 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean on Thursday in operations by the European Union’s naval force, the Italian coastguard said.

Italian coastguard coordinated four salvage operations in which a British and a Spanish ship from the EU’s Eunavfor Med force, two coastguard and three merchant vessels took part.

A total 179,523 migrants arrived by sea this year through December 19, almost 20 percent more than in 2015, Italy’s interior ministry said on Monday.

The crossings have apace continued despite rougher winter seas.

This year has been the deadliest on record with 4,901 migrants and refugees dead or missing presumed drowned in the Mediterranean, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

The death-toll to date for 2016 compares with 3,777 for all of last year, the IOM said.