Migrants wait to be rescued off the Libyan town of Zawiyah
Some 500 migrants are believed to have drown so far this year, including 22 deaths just reported by the Libyan coast guard, as more than 20,000 people arrived in Europe, mainly to Italy, spokesman Joel Millman told a news briefing.
"We have yet to complete March, and we are already racing at a pace of arrivals that has exceeded anything we've seen before in the Mediterranean.
"This is typical of spring, getting very busy," he said.
"But it's not typical to have the numbers be so high this early and the corresponding deaths that go with it."
The surge in the number of migrants has sparked fears of another summer of chaos at Britain’s borders.
Migrants Rescued in the Mediterranean Tue, January 3, 2017
Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue all 112 on aboard, including two pregnant women and five children, as it drifts out of control in the central Mediterranean Sea, some 36 nautical miles off the Libyan coast January 2, 2017
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Migrants try to reach a rescue craft from their overcrowded raft, as lifeguards from the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue all 112 on aboard
Almost 20,000 have already made it by sea to mainland Europe in the first 67 days of 2017, it emerged yesterday.
The migrant crisis is set to intensify as the weather in the Mediterranean improves.
The French have closed six motorway service stations on the approaches to Calais to prevent them being used by migrants trying to sneak aboard UK-bound lorries.
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