Two wooden boats with more than 500 people (133 children) have been rescued by the Italian Navy. This has brought the number of rescued migrants to more than 36,000 so far this year.
On Monday, a navy helicopter spotted the two vessels, one of the boats was towing the other after an accident the same day south of Sicily. The treacherous weather conditions delayed the rescue operation. It was carried out yesterday with the help of a Maersk vessel, which was nearby.
According to a statement by the Italian Navy, the group included 133 children and 64 women. The migrants departed northern Libya in an attempt to escape the lawless regime. Some of the people were originally from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Bangladesh and Egypt.
Earlier this month, an incident with migrant vessel resulted in 17 people drowned, more than 200 were rescued.
Video shows the rescue operation:
Last year, in October, more than 400 people lost their lives near Italian shores. Angelino Alfano, Italian Interior Minister, has blamed the EU for falling to assist, saying:
"The Mediterranean is not an Italian border but a European border."
The number of migrants, trying to reach Europe trough the Mediterranean, this year has enormously jumped. Totally 26,644 migrants have arrived through 30 April 2014, the same period for 2013 shows 3,362 arrivals.