Others rescued Saturday included six Libyans and people from Mali, Eritrea, Egypt, Bangladesh, South Sudan and Guinea. It said 58 migrants were found in the Strait of Gibraltar while five more were rescued further east.
The account by Proactiva Open Arms - a Spanish NGO - came as European Union leaders in Brussels signed a deal aimed at controlling migration that steps up support for the Libyan coastguard and demands that humanitarian and other ships operating in the Mediterranean do not obstruct their operations.
Their savior Saturday was the Open Arms, which became the third rescue ship run by humanitarian aid groups to draw the ire of Italy's anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini.
The full moon was the only light as a terrified 9-year-old boy from Central African Republic climbed into a rubber dinghy held together with duct tape, risking death in the dark waters off Libya along with his parents and 57 other trafficked immigrants.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League Party, said there would be no exception to his policy of refusing to let humanitarian boats dock in Italy and added that Malta was the nearest port of call.
The Maltese government has rejected claims by Italian Home Affairs minister that the closest safe port to a ship now carrying rescued migrants.
Government officials in Rome suggested instead the boat head to neighboring Malta, whose government hit back, saying the closest port was Lampedusa, which falls under Italy's responsibility.
More than 650,000 migrants have come ashore in Italy since 2014, mostly after being rescued at sea off the Libyan coast by private and public groups.Читайте также: Embattled Merkel draws up new measures to tackle migration
Fico admitted that Libya now "isn't a place with security" and said its coast guard "needs the support of the Italian navy and coast guard" and humanitarian aid ships.
However, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the gesture was a one-time "ad-hoc" resolution to the crisis and the following day Malta announced it would not allow any more charity boats to dock.
The NGO said the Open Arms and its companion ship the Astral will need several days to reach Barcelona but should arrive on Wednesday.
When Open Arms called the maritime rescue coordination centre in Rome to offer help, officials there said the Libyan coastguard had the situation covered and that no assistance was needed.
The AP journalist said a Libyan coast guard vessel approached the Open Arms during the rescue operation, but soon turned around and left, ordering the boat to return to Spain.
"I took the decision to save these human beings", Martinez told an Associated Press journalist who viewed the rescue from a dinghy belonging to its sister ship Astral.
Also witnessing the rescue were four European Parliament lawmakers. The Libyan coast guard rescued 16 people, but another 100 migrants were reported missing and feared dead at sea. "Barcelona awaits you with open #welcomeOpenArms", Colau said to the rescue crew.
The Aquarius, carrying 630 migrants, and Lifeline, carrying some 230 people, ended up in Spain and Malta respectively when Italy closed its ports to them earlier this month.
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