At least 1,800 migrants were on Saturday rescued by Italy's coast guard from seven overcrowded vessels, Reuters reported Sunday saying five corpses were found on a large rubber boat carrying 212 others.
A coast guard spokeswoman was quoted by Reuters as saying on Sunday that the dead bodies were found on board at the time of the rescue but the cause of death was not yet known, she said.Reuters says the Mediterranean has become the world's most deadly barrier for migrants and refugees, with 3,500 thought to have died at sea last year and almost 2,000 so far this year. Many are fleeing poverty and violence in the Middle East and Africa.
Italy has had about 90,000 sea migrant arrivals so far this year, after receiving 170,000 in 2014, the agency says. Many of the newcomers look to move swiftly to wealthier northern Europe, including to England from Calais, France.