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2,600 migrants were rescued from 'dangerously overloaded boats' in the Mediterranean

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Around 2,600 migrants were rescued from 19 "dangerously overloaded rubber boats" off the coast of Libya on Monday, the Italian coastguard told Reuters. 

Five women and two men died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, the Malta-based foundation, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), told ABC News. 

In a statement, MOAS added that people on one vessel were frightened and inhaling toxic fumes from the boat's broken engine. 

When panic broke out, many people who could not swim jumped out of the boat. 

Rescue swimmers from MOAS wereable to rescue 134 of the migrants from one of the boats, according to ABC News. 

The Italian Red Cross is taking care of the 354 people rescued by MOAS. 


Italy's navy and coastguard, vessels run by other humanitarian groups, ships patrolling for an European Union anti-smuggling mission and a commercial tug boat helped rescue migrants as well, according to Reuters. 

The dangerous journey across the sea

While the number of migrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey has decreased, the number of people taking the North Africa to Italy route has not changed, according to the United Nations refugee agency. 


"The chances of dying on the Libya to Italy route are ten times higher than when crossing from Turkey to Greece," William Spindler, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a media briefing Friday. 

UNHCR estimated that during the first eight months of 2016, some 281,740 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe and some 4,176 have died or gone missing since September of last year. 

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