The Latest: Art exhibit on Lampedusa tackles migrant crisis

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2016 2:02 PM
The Latest: Art exhibit on Lampedusa tackles migrant crisis

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on incidents of migrant boats sinking in the Mediterranean Sea (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

Italy's president has opened a temporary exhibit of artworks on the island of Lampedusa to promote dialogue about the migrant crisis.

President Sergio Mattarella said Friday that "culture unites people and improves international relations." He also honored the people of Lampedusa as "Europe's best face."

The exhibit features Caravaggio's 17th Century "Sleeping Cupid," depicting a cupid in dark repose as a tribute to Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean last year and whose image shocked the world.

The painting on loan from the Uffizi Gallery joins works from the Bardo Museum in Tunisia as well as the Correr Museum in Venice and the Mucem Musem of European civilizations in Marseille. The exhibit runs through Oct. 3.

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8:35 p.m.

Amnesty International says a Syrian refugee whose asylum application in Greece was rejected has been detained on the island of Lesbos pending deportation to Turkey.

If deported, he would be the first Syrian to be involuntary sent back to Turkey since March 20, when an agreement between the European Union and Turkey on returning migrants came into effect.

Nearly 400 people, including 14 Syrians who asked to be sent back, have since been returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, where they arrived in smugglers' boats after March 20.

The Amnesty International rights group criticized the EU-Turkey agreement as "illegal and reckless," arguing Friday that Turkey is not a safe country for refugees.

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6:30 p.m.

Greek authorities say more bodies have been recovered from the site of a migrant boat sinking in the Mediterranean, bringing the total death toll to nine.

A total of 340 people have been rescued so far from the sinking Friday of a roughly 25-meter (82-foot) boat about 75 nautical miles (139 kilometers; 86 miles) south of the southern Greek island of Crete, the coast guard said.

Most of the survivors were being taken to Italy, while others were being transported to Malta, Egypt and Turkey.

A massive search and rescue operation was continuing for the location of possible missing people, with three passing ships, a coast guard vessel and airplane, as well as two helicopters.

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4 p.m.

The spokesman for Libya's Red Crescent says the death toll of migrants whose boat sank off Libya's shore has reached 107, including 40 women and five children. All but a few are from African countries.

Mohammed al-Mosrati told The Associated Press on Friday that the condition of the bodies suggests they were not "decomposed and therefore have drowned within the past 48 hours."

He says the boat that capsized on Wednesday might have been the one carrying the migrants. He says strong winds and currents push bodies of those who drowned from one place to the other and that it's hard to give a definitive confirmation where they came from.

He says the death toll is expected to rise.

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2:50 p.m.

Greek authorities say hundreds of survivors from a smuggling boat that was sinking in the Mediterranean will be transported to Italy, Egypt, Malta and Turkey.

Four bodies have been recovered and 340 migrants have been rescued Friday after a boat sank in international waters south of the Greek island of Crete. The Greek coast guard said 242 survivors were being taken to Turkey on a merchant ship that helped the rescue effort.

It remained unclear whether other people were missing in the sinking.

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2:40 p.m.

The Egyptian army's search-and-rescue center says it has received a distress call from a smuggling boat full of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and is rushing to help.

In a posting on its official Facebook page, the military says Friday that helicopters and vessels are being sent to the site of the boat, about 265 kilometers (165 miles) northwest of the western Egyptian town of al Sallom in Egypt.

With warmer weather and seas, smugglers have been packing migrants into unseaworthy boats by the tens of thousands, launching off from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to try to reach Europe.

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12:55 pm.

Libya's navy spokesman says that more than 100 bodies of migrants have been retrieved from the Mediterranean after a smuggling boat capsized off Libya's shores.

Col. Ayoub Gassim tells The Associated Press that at least 104 bodies have been pulled out of the waters near the western city of Zwara but that the expected death toll is likely to be higher, since such boats usually carry up to 125 people. He said the Libyan coast guards found the empty boat on Thursday and that it's possible the boat capsized a day earlier on Wednesday.

Speaking via the telephone, he blamed Europe for "doing nothing but counting bodies" to stop the massive illegal migration from Libya.

The discovery of the bodies off Zwara is the latest in a string of tragedies that have already claimed more than 1,000 lives the last 10 days as desperate migrants embark on treacherous sea journeys seeking a better life in Europe.

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9 a.m.

Four bodies were recovered and 340 people rescued Friday from a sinking migrant boat carrying a "significant number" of people in the Mediterranean Sea south of the Greek island of Crete, authorities said.

The coast guard said the roughly 25-meter (82-foot) vessel, which resembled a large fishing boat, had been carrying an undetermined number of people when it was located Friday half-sunk about 75 nautical miles south of Crete in international waters, and within Egypt's search and rescue area of operation.

Greece was sending two patrol vessels, a military airplane and three helicopters, while five passing ships were participating in the rescue operation and one more was on its way. The coast guard said the operation was continuing to locate any potentially missing passengers from the migrant boat.

It was not immediately clear where the boat's passengers were from, or where the vessel had set off from or was heading to.

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Derek Gatopoulos in Athens and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

Follow Becatoros at http://www.twitter.com/ElenaBec