Italian authorities save 700 illegal migrants fleeing Libya (Foto: AA)
Italian authorities save 700 illegal migrants fleeing Libya
(Foto: AA)

Rome, 26 Rabi’ul Akhir 1436/16 Februari 2015 (MINA) – Italian ships saved 700 illegal migrants trying to reach Italy from Libya as authorities braced for an anticipated mass exodus in the wake of escalating unrest.

Coast guards first received a distress call by satellite phone Friday evening from a small boat carrying migrants in difficulty 30 miles from Tripoli.

But a coast guard vessel and two Italian merchant vessels that raced to the scene found six other small boats in the area packed with migrants, Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

In all, 700 people were plucked from the sea.

Italian intelligence sources said thousands of others are planning to try and flee Libya in the coming hours as the situation there worsens, posing a major challenge for the Italian coast guard and navy.

Good weather conditions are tempting Libyans to risk the voyage across the Mediterranean.

In January, as many as 3,538 people were rescued by Italian vessels in the sea between Libya and Italy, compared to 2,171 in the first month of 2014, officials said.

The rise of ISIL in Libya has alarmed Italian authorities, with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying Friday that his country is ready to send troops to its former colony to contain extremists if there is authorization from the United Nations.  (T/P001/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)