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article imageOver 7,000 immigrants rescued off coast of Italy since Friday

By Karen Graham     Apr 14, 2015 in World
Over 7,000 immigrants have been plucked from the Mediterranean Sea since Friday, according to the European Union. The E.U.'s Coast Guard's have been overwhelmed by the numbers.
EU migration spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said Tuesday that of the 7,000 migrants, "over 3,500 are still on board rescue vessels and being taken to Italy and so far, 11 bodies were recovered."
According to the latest information, 280,000 people entered the European Union illegally last year, many coming from Syria, Eritrea, and Somalia. The journey is always perilous and fraught with danger, especially coming from war-torn Libya.
On Monday, about 60 nautical miles off the coast of Libya, people smugglers trying to recover a wooden boat that had been used to carry immigrants, fired shots in the air to warn away a coast guard vessel and an Italian tugboat. The rescuers were in the process of rescuing 250 immigrants.
The coast guard vessel already had a load of 342 immigrants on board from a previous rescue. Authorities say this is the second such incident where a rescue vessel was fired on, raising concerns over the safety of immigrants and rescuers alike. The recent stretch of good weather has led to an increase in the number of people attempting to reach a better life in Europe.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU's top immigration official told EU lawmakers on Tuesday that the rising influx of immigrants "is unfortunately, the new norm and we will need to adjust our responses accordingly."
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