Nov. 25 (UPI) — The Italian Coast Guard has rescued nearly 150 people from a sinking migrant ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
Dramatic footage showed rescuers helping small children boarding the rescue boat among the 149 people rescued, while others were seen in life preservers to prevent them from drowning.
The rescue occurred Saturday about 2 miles off the coast of Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, after the boat carrying asylum seekers from Libya sank in rough waters.
By Sunday, at least seven migrants were found dead and another dozen people were still missing and presumed dead.
Search crews have continued to search for more bodies.
The Italian Coast Guard said in a statement Sunday posted to Facebook that the rescue operations were especially difficult due to waves up to nearly 7 feet high, and “the high number of people who fell into sea at the same time.”
Two rescue divers and a crew member from the engine room jumped into the sea to save the migrants while Coast Guard crews who remained on board threw out flotation devices that the shipwrecked could grasp onto in order to prevent drowning.
The heroic actions of rescuers “make us seriously believe that Italy is still a great country, capable of welcoming and saving lives,” Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Paola De Micheli tweeted Monday. “Proud to represent these discreet and silent heroes.”