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Over 350 migrants onboard charity ship after new rescue in Med

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ON BOARD THE OCEAN VIKING (AFP)

French charities SOS Mediterranea and MSF rescued another 105 migrants off the coast of Libya on Monday, bringing to 356 the number of those aboard the Ocean Viking now seeking a safe port.

The rescue was complicated by the migrants' blue rubber dinghy starting to sink as the charity vessel approached in international waters around 40 nautical miles from Libya, an AFP journalist said.

Those rescued on Monday are all male, mostly Sudanese, and include 29 minors and two boys aged five and 12.

The rescue is the fourth in as many days for the Ocean Viking, which is equipped to carry 200-250 people although the number on board could increase beyond that, the charities have said.

The charities have said fair weather conditions are likely encouraging more departures from Libyan shores.

A further incentive is that a three-day Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, which kicked off on Sunday, may reduce the presence of authorities patrolling Libyan beaches.

The rescues come at a time of tension between Italy and other EU states, with the Italian government refusing to let migrants land on its shores unless its EU partners help take them in.

It is not known how many of those rescued are asylum seekers.

Another 150 rescued migrants are stuck on board the Open Arms ship operated by Spanish charity Proactiva off the coast of Italy's southern Lampedusa island, some of them for 10 days.

"Forecast of 2.2-metre high waves for Wednesday afternoon," tweeted Proactiva's founder Oscar Camps.

"Italy forbids the Open Arms from entering Italian territorial waters to seek shelter at Lampedusa. Malta forbids entry to its territorial waters to seek shelter. Everything is great."

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