ROME (AP) — Italian authorities say some 4,000 migrants have been rescued at sea in the past 48 hours as the exodus from Libya continues unabated.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Wednesday that around 15,000 migrants have been rescued since the start of the year and that there were between 300,000 and 600,000 people in Libya ready to board smuggling boats.
He said these foreigners — from Africa, Syria and elsewhere in the Mideast — weren't in Libya as tourists but were waiting to try to reach Europe to apply for asylum. Italy launched a beefed-up sea rescue operation last year after a smuggling boat capsized off the island of Lampedusa, killing some 360 people.
Speaking on RAI state radio, Alfano demanded Europe step in to help Italy cope with the arrivals.