ROME (AP) May. 26, 2016 - At least five people drowned and 550 were rescued by the Italian coastguard. after the overcrowded fishing boat they were traveling in capsized off the Libyan coast.
A dramatic series of photos taken by Italian Navy while en route to the rescue shows the people on board frantically trying to save themselves as the crammed wooden vessel tilts into the sea.
The accident happened after the Navy ship Bettica spotted the rickety vessel in "precarious conditions" while on routine patrols in the southern Mediterranean.
"Shortly afterwards the boat overturned due to overcrowding. The Bettica, which had arrived nearby, threw life-rafts and jackets" to the migrants in the water," the Navy said in a statement.
A larger Italian frigate in the area sent a helicopter and several smaller vessels to aid in the dramatic rescue. The navy warned the death toll could rise, as the rescue was ongoing.
More than 6,000 people have been rescued from the Mediterranean this week, bringing the number of people rescued and brought to Italy since the start of 2016 to nearly 40,000.