At least 30 migrants including young children drowned Wednesday when they fell off an overloaded vessel in the Mediterranean, where tensions are rising between aid ships and the Libyan coast guard.
British and Spanish navy ships, aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), three merchant ships and a tug boat joined MOAS and the Italian coast guard and navy to carry out the rescues.
"Not a scene from a horror movie. Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe's doorstep today!", he said, adding that rescuers were "frantically" trying to break open the locked hold and save those trapped.
This way the number of dead and disappeared people in the route from Libya to Italy, increased to almost 1,400 As it is traditional in this season of the year, the migratory flux through the Mediterranean is each time bigger, each time the weather conditions get better.
The Italian coast guard and several commercial ships also contributed to the rescue.
"The personnel of the Libyan boats were armed and first fired in the direction of a fishing boat", a spokesperson said.
Italy: Coast guards recover bodies of migrants
Most rescues take place just outside the 12-mile marker that separates Libyan territory from global waters.
He warned that, among the 31 dead according to MOAS, "most are toddlers".
Two weeks ago, the German NGO Sea-Watch reported an aggressive intervention by the Libyan coastguard as it tried to take control of a large wooden boat sailing in worldwide waters with 450 migrants on board.
Chris Catrambone of Moas tweeted pictures from the scene and said bodies were still in the water - including those of toddlers.
It is a busy stretch of sea where humanitarian vessels, the Libyan Coast Guard and even scavengers hoping to recover abandoned migrant boats and their engines all operate.
The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Italy has surged this year by more than 30 percent in comparison with the same period last year, with 46,000 people arriving so far. The Libyans then towed two migrant boats back to shore while humanitarian groups brought more than 1000 on board.