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Lankans among 480 migrants

Sri Lankans were among over 480 migrants rescued by humanitarian ships on Saturday during search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea.

International media reported that a 4-day-old baby was one of the migrants.

The baby was travelling on one of two rubber boats carrying over 200 migrants from North and Central Africa, Sri Lanka and Yemen.

The boats were seen drifting some 22 nautical miles north of the Libyan town of Sabratha, the most frequently used departure point currently used by people smugglers in Libya.

The flow of migrants braving the Mediterranean Sea has not stopped despite the cold weather due to rumors of a potential crackdown on people-smuggling.

In the past migrant crossings have slowed to a trickle during winter months due to bad weather.

But crossings picked up at the end of last year as word spread that Libya's coast guard is being trained to stop illicit boats setting sail for Italy, a key gateway for migrants into Europe.

So far 27,850 migrants have made the crossing to Europe by sea in 2017 according to the inter-governmental International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Just since the end of last year, 635 people have either died or are missing in the Mediterranean.