Rome: The Italian navy has recovered 45 bodies while dozens of others are still missing in the Mediterranean Sea. More than 2000 people are rescued from boats on Friday. Italian Navy ship Vega plucked about 135 people off a "half-submerged" large rubber boat in one of 17 operations coordinated by the coastguard on Friday. The Vega recovered 45 bodies and is still searching for the missing, the navy said, marking the third straight day of reports of migrant deaths at sea.
The numbers managing to reach Italy were comparable to the same period last year and the year before. The refugees, many of whom do not know how to swim and do not have life jackets, pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to make the crossing. They are piled onto flimsy rubber boats or old fishing vessels, and as dramatic images from the crew of the Italian Navy ship Bettica showed on Wednesday, they can be tossed into the water in a matter of seconds.
"It's obvious that no matter the great effort made by rescuers, when the numbers are as high as we're seeing this week, it's very risky," said Federico Fossi, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rome. "But in terms of numbers it's the third year that this is 'normal'," Fossi said. "It's the beginning of the high season and we're still at slightly fewer arrivals as the same period last year."