VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta’s armed forces rescued nearly 400 migrants in four separate sea operations on Wednesday and brought them all ashore to the small Mediterranean island, the military said.
A government official said it was one of the largest number of arrivals to Malta in many months.
An army source said other migrant boats were being monitored in the central Mediterranean, and it was not immediately clear if the Maltese authorities planned to intervene.
NGOs have reported that several boats are trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.
Sea Watch International said on Twitter that a rubber dinghy with at least 80 people on board was deflating about 50 nautical miles north of Garabulli in Libya. “Many people in the water, high probability of missing and drowned,” it said, adding that the Libyan Coast Guard was on the scene.
Malta has repeatedly said its patrol boats will only rescue migrants when they are seen to be in distress.
Malta and neighbouring Italy have closed their ports over the past year to charity ships that pick up migrants off the coast of Libya and have called on the European Union to share out any arriving migrants between the various member states.
Reporting by Chris Scicluna; Editing by Mark Heinrich