Image provided by the Italian navy
Image released by the Italian Navy showing the migrants aboard the capsized boat Italian navy

The Italian navy has plucked seven dead bodies out of the Mediterranean and rescued 500 migrants who were left stranded after their boat capsized as it made the treacherous voyage from Libya to Europe.

The naval vessels Bettica and Bergamini rescued the migrants in the Strait of Sicily, throwing life rafts and jackets overboard. A search for any other migrants swept from their boat by the waves continues.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the boat had capsized because it was overcrowded. People smugglers in Libya regularly cram their vessels with dangerous numbers of people to maximise profits.

Once the overturned boat was spotted, rescue efforts began. The Bergamini deployed helicopters and rescue vessels. Survivors and the bodies of those who perished were taken aboard the Bettica.

At the same time, 1,017 migrants are expected to arrive at the port of Salerno at midday on Thursday (26 May). The migrants, including women and children, will arrive as the the Norwegian boat Siem Pilot returns to port from operations. The vessel brought more than 500 individuals to the port on April 1.

Between 15 and 22 May 1,641 refugees arrived in Italy, according to statistics collected by the International Organisation for Migration. The majority have come from sub-Saharan African nations like Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

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