Europe

The Latest: Norwegian ship rescues 503 refugees from Med Sea

  • A rescue team of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms transfers refugees and migrants, from different African countries, from the overcrowded rubber boats on which they had left Libya to an Italian Military Ship, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

    A rescue team of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms transfers refugees and migrants, from different African countries, from the overcrowded rubber boats on which they had left Libya to an Italian Military Ship, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)  (The Associated Press)

  • Refugees and migrants from different African countries wait to be assisted by an NGO aboard an overcrowded rubber boat, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

    Refugees and migrants from different African countries wait to be assisted by an NGO aboard an overcrowded rubber boat, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms assist refugees and migrants, from different African countries that left Libya aboard 2 overcrowded rubber boats, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

    Members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms assist refugees and migrants, from different African countries that left Libya aboard 2 overcrowded rubber boats, about 20 miles North of Sabratha, Libya, Saturday, March 4, 2017. A rescue ship belonging to a Spanish NGO has saved 250 migrants in danger of capsizing near the Libyan coast on Saturday. Proactiva Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza says that the NGO's boat rescued the African migrants from two small rubber vessels that were at risk of being overwhelmed by the sea. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on Europe and immigration (all times local):

5:35 p.m.

A Norwegian ship has rescued 503 people from the Mediterranean Sea in eight operations since Thursday.

The Norwegian Police Service says the Siem Pilot arrived Sunday in the Sicilian port of Catania with 503 migrants on board. A seriously ill 16-year-old boy died being helped on board, police said.

The agency said the migrants — 358 men, 29 women and 116 children, including babies — sailed from Libya last week in rubber dinghies and wooden boats. It said many of them were injured, some with gunshot wounds, burn injuries and head wounds.

It did not explain the reasons for the wounds or injuries.

Police said two people on board suspected of being human traffickers were detained and handed over to Italian authorities for further investigation.

Norwegian rescue vessels Siem Pilot and Peter Henry von Koss have rescued 59,000 refugees and migrants since spring 2015 in the Mediterranean, in cooperation with the European Union's border and coast guard agency Frontex.

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2:30 p.m.

Germany planned to close its border with Austria and turn back asylum-seekers in September 2015, a move that could have dramatically changed the course of the European refugee crisis that was at its peak at the time, according to a German newspaper.

The Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers agreed Sept. 12 to send thousands of police to the border, where they were to turn back migrants who didn't have documents entitling them to enter Germany — "including in cases of asylum request."

The plan was halted hours before it was due to take effect on Sept. 13 after officials raised concerns about the border closure during an emergency meeting at Germany's Interior Ministry, the paper reported.

Citing interviews with several unnamed high-ranking officials, Welt am Sonntag reported that ministers didn't want to take responsibility for a decision that might have been illegal under German and European law.

The interior ministry said in a statement to The Associated Press that it could "neither confirm nor deny" the report.

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