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Mediterranean 17 migrants dead, 4,200 rescued while fleeing to Europe for greener pastures

Coast guards said, last month, more than 800 migrants drowned off Libya, in the Mediterranean's most deadly shipwreck, when their 20-metre long fishing boat capsised and sank.

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Over 4,200 migrants trying to cross over to Europe have been rescued from boats in the Mediterranean in the last 24 hours, the Italian coast guards said in Rome on Sunday, May 31.

The guards said a total of 4,243 people have been saved from fishing boats and rubber dinghies in 22 operations involving ships from nations including Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain.

They said on Friday, May 28, that the Italian navy recovered 17 dead bodies on one of the boats off Libya, adding that the details on the circumstances surrounding their deaths and their nationalities have not yet been released.

The coast guards said the bodies and other 200 survivors have been brought to the port of Augusta in eastern Sicily aboard the Italian navy corvette Fenice late on Saturday, May 30.

They said migrants escaping war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East this year have been pouring into Italy, which has been bearing the brunt of Mediterranean rescue operations.

They said  last month, more than 800 migrants drowned off Libya, in the Mediterranean's most deadly shipwreck, when their 20-metre long fishing boat capsised and sank.

The European Union's plan to disperse 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other countries met with resistance this week, with Britain saying it would not participate and some eastern countries calling for a voluntary scheme.

The UN refugee agency, said more than 35,500 migrants arrived in Italy from the beginning of the year up to the first week of May.

It noted that the number has swelled considerably since, while over 1,800 are either dead or missing.

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