Two migrants rescued by the Italian Navy share a thermal blanket on the deck of the Verga, the ship that will take them to the mainland. With summer at its peak and the waves at their calmest, Italy's Mare Nostrum 'Rescue at Sea' operation has been inundated with arrivals of asylum seekers, mostly journeying from the coast of Libya. At least 5,000 were rescued at sea over the course of just 48 hours between 28-29 June 2014. Since the operation started, in October 2014, 73,686 people have been rescued while in distress at sea. Considered EU's largest such mission to date, Italy's decision to launch Mare Nostrum was a direct response to the more than 350 lives lost during twin shipwrecks off the coast of Lampedusa in October 2013.