Spain saves 73 migrants from 5 boats crossing from Africa

"Many more people could have died in a day like this if we arrived a few hours later".

Darrin Zammit Lupi, who was aboard the rescue ship Phoenix, said he saw 20 bodies while a dinghy was being helped by the ship's crew, run by the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

Rescue vessels in the Mediterranean worked flat out Friday to rescue over 2,000 people from flimsy dinghies as exhausted saviours accused the European Union of turning a blind eye to the crisis. It also distributed life vests to 1,000 migrants still on smugglers' boats who are awaiting transfers to the rescue ships that will bring them to southern Italian ports.

Eleven more migrants of unknown origin were pulled from a small vessel in the Mediterranean Sea after a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aircraft alerted the Spanish maritime rescue service.

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) boats Prudence and Aquarius rescued some 1,145 people from nine different dinghies in non-stop operations.

In one operation, the Phoenix rescued 134 people, all from sub-Saharan counties, he said. The rest of the migrants were due to reach Calabria on the Italian mainland on Sunday.

The pregnant woman and 25 other migrants were aboard a vessel that was taking on water in the Atlantic Ocean when reached by the rescue boat Salvamar Gadir before daybreak Friday.

The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean is down from its peak in 2015 with almost 32,000 migrants estimated to have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. Over the busy weekend, Frontex says the Norwegian Siem Pilot, now on rotation for Frontex's Triton program, rescued more than 500 of the almost 7,000 people pulled to safety. Of that, more than 650 have died.

SOS Mediterranee reported one man was found dead on the dinghies and rafts while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said five drowned.

The voice that is often missing from the discussion is often that of the migrants themselves.

A Somali migrant carries her 12-day-old baby on board a rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

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