The Latest: EU gives Sweden more time on migrant quota

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

European Union lawmakers have agreed that Sweden deserves an extra year to take in asylum-seekers under a plan agreed last year to share out tens of thousands.

The agreement in September was to distribute 160,000 refugees currently in overwhelmed Greece and Italy among other EU partners over the next two years.

Sweden was to take in some 5,700 people. But the EU lawmakers voted by 396 to 190, with 50 abstentions, to grant more time because Sweden already has the EU’s highest per-capita rate of asylum applicants.

The relocation plan has struggled to get off the ground, with only 1,500 refugees moved out of Greece and Italy in nine months.


3:55 p.m.

The EU Mediterranean rescue mission says it has located about 20 bodies in the seas off Libya’s coast after a migrant boat sank.

Navy Lt. Rino Gentile of the EUNAVFOR operation told The Associated Press that the sinking dinghy was first spotted by one of its aircraft. Both the Italian coast guard and the Spanish frigate Regina Sofia intervened.

He said some 20 bodies were located in the sea. Earlier, Italian coast guard reported 88 people had been saved.


3:20 p.m.

Greek authorities say they have completed the evacuation of the country’s biggest informal refugee and other migrant camp on the Macedonian border.

Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas says the Idomeni camp is now empty. At its peak, it hosted some 14,000 people trapped by Balkan border closures.

Greek police say the last 783 people were bused out of the tent city Thursday and taken to official shelters in other parts of northern Greece.

A total 3,000 people were taken to official shelters Tuesday and Wednesday.

Just before the evacuation Idomeni had 8,400 occupants, according to official figures, and it’s unclear where all those who didn’t get the buses to other camps are. Several have set up new informal camps in the vicinity.


3:10 p.m.

A Libyan navy spokesman says a total of 766 migrants have been rescued by Libyan coast guards.

Col. Ayoub Gassim told The Associated Press that the rescued migrants were found in two groups: one of 550 near the western coast city of Sabratha and the second of 216 off Zwara. He added that the rescue missions took place on Thursday.

He also said that two boats were found empty in the area between the two cities, and only four bodies were retrieved while the rest of its migrants are feared dead. He didn’t elaborate, saying that he doesn’t have enough details about the empty boats.


3 p.m.

Albanian naval and air forces, law enforcement and emergency bodies have held exercises in the Adriatic Sea to prepare for the event of humanitarian situations in a refugee crisis.

The exercises on Thursday were held at Cape of Pali, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital, Tirana, and included training on how to transport refugees from a ship to a helicopter or when a ship refuses to be boarded.

Albania hasn’t been part of the transit route for migrants through Europe so far, with only a few of them crossing into its territory and being turned back. Tirana says it doesn’t have the capacity to shelter refugees, but will accept a number of them if Europe decides to distribute them between countries under a coordinated plan.


2:55 p.m.

Italy’s coast guard says a migrant boat has overturned off Libya’s coast with an unknown number of passengers on board. It says so far 88 people have been rescued.

Coast Guard. Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro told The Associated Press the capsized boat was first spotted Thursday by an aircraft participating in the European Union monitoring operation. The Italian coast guard responded with two rescue vessels to the location some 30 miles (50 kilometers) off Libya’s coast.

Nicastro said 88 people had been rescued from the capsized wooden boat. He said he didn’t have any information about whether any bodies were recovered or how big the boat was.

It is one of about 20 search-and-rescue operations underway Thursday. Nicastro said of the eight operations concluded, some 1,000 migrants have been rescued.

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