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10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast


Rescued migrants, some of the more than 3,600 rescued Saturday by Italy and France in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, arrive in the harbor of Lampedusa, southern Italy, May 2, 2015.

Rescued migrants, some of the more than 3,600 rescued Saturday by Italy and France in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, arrive in the harbor of Lampedusa, southern Italy, May 2, 2015.

Ten migrants drowned in the Mediterranean near the coast of Libya over the last two days, but nearly 4,100 were rescued as people smugglers took advantage of calm seas to attempt the often perilous crossing to Europe's southern shores.

All of those rescued were ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria.

The Italian Coast Guard said it rescued hundreds of migrants on at least 16 boats Sunday, following the rescue of nearly 3,700 Saturday.

Italy says that mild weather and calm seas are expected to push the number of migrant arrivals to 200,000 this year, 30,000 more than in 2014.

The unending flood of migrants leaving the chaos of Libya for a more stable life in Europe is continuing even after about 800 on one over-crowded boat drowned in a capsize last month. The captain of that boat mistakenly rammed it into a commercial ship on its way for a rescue operation.

While Saturday was a "very busy day," the coast guard said it was not a record for the agency, which coordinated the rescue of 3,791 migrants on April 12 and another 2,850 the following day.

The French patrol boat Commandant Birot, which was sent to boost European Union patrols to deal with the influx of migrant boats in the Mediterranean, picked up 217 people off the coast of Libya.

The migrants, all men, had been on board three boats, the authorities said, adding that two suspected people smugglers were also caught and would be handed over to Italian police.

Europe is struggling to deal with the flood of people trying to reach its shores. Hundreds of migrants, mostly African but also many Syrians escaping the war at home, land every day on the Italian coast after being rescued by the Italian navy or coast guard.

Following a series of shipwrecks that killed more than 1,200 people in April, European leaders at an April 23 summit agreed to strengthen the EU presence at sea, deciding to triple the previous $3.4 million-a-month funding for the operation run by its Frontex border agency.

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