BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on European migration issues (all times local):
The U.N. refugee agency says that around 50 migrants might have gone missing in the sea off Libya’s coast after a smugglers’ flimsy dinghy foundered off Libya’s coast.
A spokesman in Rome for the UNHCR, Federico Fossi, said that 78 migrants were rescued from the rubber dinghy on Saturday by a European patrol boat. But since migrant smugglers usually cram about 130 migrants aboard, there are fears up to 52 people might be missing.
This weekend, Fossi said, the Italian coast guard coordinated the rescue of more than 2,500 migrants in the Mediterranean.
On Saturday, the coast guard said seven bodies were found in a different dinghy needing rescue. Fossi said one of the rescued migrants later died.
Calm Mediterranean waters in spring often see a surge in migrant crossings.
Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has saved 54 migrants, including two babies, trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in a smugglers’ boat.
A spokesman for the service says that the group, which included 13 women, was spotted by a cargo ship in waters east of the Strait of Gibraltar. The spokesman spoke anonymously in line with the policy of the rescue service.
The Red Cross says that seven of the migrants needed to be taken to a hospital upon arrival at the port in Malaga around midnight on Saturday.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have attempted the dangerous crossing to Europe in recent years, with thousands perishing in the attempt.