18 bodies found as Italy rescues 3,500 migrants
ROME (AP) - Italian authorities discovered 18 bodies in a boat of migrants Sunday as rescue operations went into overdrive this weekend, picking up some 3,500 would-be refugees at sea.
The navy said in a series of tweets Sunday that its Sirio patrol ship was docking in Pozzallo, southern Sicily, with 266 migrants and 18 corpses aboard.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano renewed his demand for the European Union to relieve pressure on Italy, which has seen some 100,000 migrants arrive so far this year alone. The country says it spends 9.5 million euros ($13 million) a month to operate the beefed-up air and sea patrols that were launched after more than 360 migrants drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa last October.
"Italy will make its own decisions" if EU partners don't offer assistance, he warned in a tweet.
The EU's home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, thanked Italy for its "huge efforts" to save lives and said in a statement she would meet Wednesday with Alfano "to better define priorities and provide assistance."