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Summary

  1. Funerals for 24 of more than 800 people killed when a migrant boat capsized on Sunday have been held in Malta
  2. EU leaders meet in Brussels at an emergency summit on the growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean
  3. 1,750 people are known to have died at sea so far this year, a huge rise on the same period last year
  4. Italy says it is "at war" with migrant traffickers, and has urged the EU to take military action
  5. The would-be migrants are attempting to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa

Live Reporting

By Sarah Fowler, Claudia Allen, Yaroslav Lukov and James Reevell

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Post update

    We're wrapping up our live coverage of the emergency EU summit in Brussels, following the recent deaths of hundreds of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Thanks for staying with us. You can follow all of the latest updates on the BBC News website.

  2. Post update

    Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis and Eritreans were among the refugees captured on footage filmed from inside one of the people-smuggling boats. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has been speaking to some of the families who made it safely to shore.

  3. Post update

    Stuart Hughes

    BBC News, Malta

    tweets: "It left me in pieces. I came here to cry." #malta #migrantcrisis

    Image of Wedeb Debira, migrant activist, in Malta
  4. 'Death sentence'

    Paul Adams

    BBC News, Sicily

    Mbaye Gueye, of the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Christian lay group closely involved in working with migrants in Sicily, says the EU's primary focus on prevention is like a death sentence. "We will just send them to their deaths," he told the BBC.

  5. Frustration with UK approach

    Simon Wilson

    BBC Europe bureaux editor, Brussels

    There is obviously some frustration in Brussels with UK Prime Minister David Cameron's approach to this summit. An official from one of the Mediterranean EU countries briefing journalists in the summit press area told us that his country was "…not like the UK".

    Mr Cameron, he said, came here with the position: "We will give boats, we will give planes…but in exchange he doesn't want to take in any migrants."

  6. UN humanitarian zone

    Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a former Nato commander, tells the BBC he would like to see a UN humanitarian zone declared off the Libyan coast.

    "Dozens of boats are departing daily from the North African shore, without any control or regulation whatsoever," he says.

    "To that end, what I think we should put in place is a United Nations authorised Humanitarian Disaster area, such that we're able to take over the responsibilities of the Libyans for security of life and safety at sea, for as long as this crisis persists."

  7. Post update

    Despite the recent disasters, hundreds of migrants are continuing to arrive at Italy's small Lampedusa island on a daily basis. These men are waiting patiently to board a ship to be transported to Sicily.

    Migrant men wait in line to board a ship bound for Sicily on 23 April 2015 in Lampedusa, Italy.
  8. 'Take the smugglers' business away'

    People smugglers should be intercepted about 40 to 50 miles (64 to 80km) off the Libyan coast and their boats destroyed, Thomas Jakobsson from Sea Marshals Risk Management tells the BBC.

    "It needs to be dealt with a lot closer to the Libyan coast, to get the people back, to remove the business from the smugglers. If you remove the business from them, it will stop and you will have less dead bodies, that's how simple it is."

  9. Post update

    More from MEP Martin Schulz, who said the possibility of destroying human traffickers' vessels was "touched upon" in the EU meeting, warning "we need to check the conditions".

    He appeared to dismiss any military option, saying he did not see how it "would help us at this juncture".

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz addresses reporters as he arrives at the European Council headquarters for an extraordinary summit of European leaders to deal with a worsening migration crisis, on 23 April 2015 in Brussels.
  10. 'Unfair' criticism

    EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said a little earlier in a press briefing that it was unfair for people to criticise the EU "for the inadequacies that have led in this particular case to the disasters".

    He said he hoped to get a "significant increase" in the budget for Triton (see 16:46).

    But, he added, what is key is for EU states to agree to a fair quota system of legal immigration.

  11. Chaos

    Quentin Sommerville

    BBC News

    tweets: Libya's chaos, rival governments & IS presence mean it is still unable to stop migrants heading out across the Med, even with new EU plan.

  12. 'Appalling' EU response

    Amnesty International's Kate Allen comes down hard on the EU, saying its "response to one of the worst refugee crises since World War Two has been appalling".

    Ms Allen has just visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, where she met migrants and coast guard rescuers.

    "Everyone I spoke to in the camp had a legitimate reason for leaving their own countries, " she continues, "Europe has a bigger role to play than just closing it's borders".

  13. Status unclear

    Many of the rescued migrants currently being held on Italy's small Lampedusa island are now preparing to be transferred to Sicily. Their future status in the EU remains unclear.

    A migrant woman and a young child wait to board a ship in Lampedusa bound for Sicily
  14. 'Crossing tips'

    Illegal migrants have been posing questions on social media sites to glean information on how to safely get to Europe, BBC Monitoring reports.

    "How can I travel to Libya from Syria at the present time?" is one of the questions posted on Google Answers' Arabic-language page, with users providing tips on how to evade detection by the European authorities.

    At the same time, adverts for scheduled trips from Turkey to countries such as Greece and Italy - with telephone numbers of who to contact - are also visible on several Facebook pages.

  15. EU plan 'not enough'

    The EU has been heavily criticised over its Mediterranean rescue service Triton, which replaced the larger Italian Mare Nostrum operation last year.

    Critics say a 10-point action plan agreed on Monday - which envisages an increase in the financial resources and a new campaign to destroy traffickers' boats - does not go far enough.

  16. Bigger question

    Ben Wright

    BBC Political correspondent, Brussels

    says there is a considerable pressure from aid agencies to upgrade the EU's remit and launch a proper search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

    There is an even bigger question on what to do with migrants once they arrive in Europe, he adds.

  17. 'Litmus test'

    UK Prime Minister David Cameron's offer (see 14:35 entry) to send the HMS Bulwark and two border patrol ships "is a big breakthrough," Save the Children's Brendan Cox says. It will put pressure on other EU nations to step up, he continues, but "we need more details on the specifics".

    "The litmus test for the meeting as a whole remains whether that beefed up search and rescue mission will be deployed in the timeframe (48 hours) and at the scale (at least three times current budget) that is necessary."

    Undated file picture of HMS Bulwark
  18. West Africa’s lost migrant boys

    The BBC's Paul Adams meets teenage boys from West Africa who arrived as unaccompanied minors in Italy and face frustration at the slow pace of bureaucracy and long for their families.

    Adolescent migrants are seen at the courtyard of an immigration centre in Caltagirone, Sicily, 18 March 2015
    Image caption: The number of unaccompanied minors reaching Italy has increased recently, officials say
  19. Rome demo

    Emotional scenes outside Italy's parliament in Rome, where asylum seekers have gathered to demand freedom of movement and work in Europe.

    The thousands of people making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean are fleeing war and poverty and hoping to build better livelihoods in Europe.

    Aboubakar Soumahoro, from Ivory Coast, spokesman of the association "Sans-Papiers" in Italy cries during a demonstration of asylum seekers in front of the Italian parliament in Rome on 23 April 2015.
  20. What next?

    What happens to migrants brought to shore?

    Lt Keith Caruan, of the Malta Armed Forces, tells BBC World TV they and any evidence are handed over to the local police force, before being processed through immigration officials and later distributed to detention centres.

    "There's a whole process that tries to investigate their origins and why they've left," he adds.

  21. 'Thrown overboard'

    We're starting to get a clearer picture of what led to Sunday's disastrous crossing, in which more than 800 people perished.

    Many of the would-be migrants, according to Italian prosecutors, were subjected to beatings, with one young boy thrown overboard as they were transported to the fishing ship because he stood up without permission on the rubber dinghy, AP reports.

  22. Minute's silence

    Donald Tusk, European council president

    tweets: "Observing a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims of the recent tragedies in the #Mediterranean."

    Italian PM Matteo Renzi (left) and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras respect a minute of silence during a European Union extraordinary summit
  23. Malta funerals

    In Malta, funerals have been held for 24 of those killed in Sunday's disaster.

    Here, Selemauit Hagus Belay (centre) of Ethiopia cries as a hearse carrying the coffin of her Eritrean husband Ashih Tekleab Haile leaves Mater Dei Hospital outside the capital Valletta.

    Selemauit Hagus Belay (centre) of Ethiopia cries as a hearse carrying the coffin of her Eritrean husband Ashih Tekleab Haile leaves Mater Dei Hospital outside Valletta, Malta.
  24. 'Stop this madness'

    Estonia's Prime Minister Taavi Roivas has just arrived in Brussels with some strong comments.

    "The EU is committed to stop this madness of human trafficking at our doorsteps".

    "Co-operating with North African countries to destroy smugglers' boats and sending border guards and equipment to support Italy, Greece and Malta should be clear EU commitments," the EU's youngest head of government adds.

  25. Is military force the solution?

    The BBC's Jasmine Coleman looks at proposals for military action to target people smugglers and alternative ideas to stop migrants dying at sea.

    Rescued migrants stand aboard the Italian Guardia di Finanza vessel Denaro upon arrival to the Sicilian harbour of Catania on 23 April 2015.
    Image caption: Calls have mounted for a military response to the Mediterranean migrant crisis
  26. 'Rehashed proposals'

    "The proposals are a rehash of what we've heard in the past. What's different is there's more political willingness," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is quoted as saying by The Times of Malta.

    "There's a changed political climate. Is it enough? It is never enough," he adds.

  27. From army barracks to a migrant detention centre

    Gavin Lee

    BBC News, Malta

    tweets: "I used to be a wealthy Libyan army officer, now I live in a migrant centre, 10 men per room"- Alhassan on life in Malta"

    Four photos showing Al-Hassan as a soldier and in a migrant centre
  28. Migrants dreams in Lampedusa

    Jack Garland

    BBC News, Lampedusa, Italy

    tweets: 'This migrant in Lampedusa told us he's a petroleum engineer fleeing war in Libya & dreaming of study in the UK' @Jackwgarland

    Migrant behind bars
  29. How British offer will work

    Jonathan Beale

    Defence correspondent, BBC News

    writes: "Helicopters will be able to land on the ship, but as HMS Bulwark has no hanger to maintain them, the helicopters - probably three Merlins - will be based on land.

    The MOD says they are still working through the detail, but one option is to station the helicopters on Malta. They will then be able to "lillypad" onto Bulwark whenever necessary.

    "The MOD is not yet providing any detail of the Prime Minister's statement in Brussels that two patrol boats would also help in the operation. It's not yet certain that they'll be Royal Navy vessels."

  30. Post update

    BBC Outside Source

    tweets: 'I'd rather stay in Libya than risk my life on boat to Europe' - Ghanaian man tells @BBCOS #MigrantCrisis http://bbc.in/1GmaIYU

    migrants
  31. 'Unacceptable' situation

    French President Francois Hollande is now also in Brussels.

    He says: "France asked for this European Council because there is a humanitarian situation that is unacceptable. The first decision expected is to reinforce Europe's presence at sea."

    "The second decision is to fight against the traffickers who are often terrorists… who leave tens, hundreds of victims".

  32. Post update

    Mr Cameron also warns that Britain will require assurances that rescued migrants would not be able to come to the UK.

    "Of course under the right conditions; that must include that people that we pick up and people we deal with are taken to the nearest safe country, most likely Italy, and don't have recourse to claim asylum in the UK," he says.

  33. More from David Cameron

    More from David Cameron.

    He says: "Now of course saving lives means rescuing these poor people, but it also means smashing the gangs and stabilising the region. Now Britain as ever will help.

    "We'll use our aid budget to help stabilise neighbouring countries and - as the country in Europe with the biggest defence budget - we can make a real contribution."

  34. Reunited in Malta

    Ben James

    World Have Your Say

    tweets: Amazing to talk to mum Asafash & 14-year-old son Emanuel from Eritrea: reunited in #Malta, hear story on @BBC_WHYS

    Asafash & 14-year-old son Emanuel from Eritrea
  35. British offer

    British PM David Cameron in Brussels

    British Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived at the summit.

    He has said Britain is offering HMS Bulwark, three helicopters and two border patrol ships to bolster efforts to deal with the crisis.

  36. 'Solving at source'

    Stuart Hughes

    BBC News, Malta

    I have met Mario Gauci, a manager of Hal Far migrant village.

    "The problem has to be solved at source," Mr Gauci says.

    "I think we need to stop them before they leave - the trip is too dangerous. I'm surprised they're still doing it.

    "Malta is a very small island. Perhaps, offices need to be set up in African countries where asylum seekers can be processed. That would save a lot of deaths, I think."

    Mario Gauci
  37. Migrant's story

    One African migrant, Gassama, tells the BBC about his long journey from The Gambia through Libya to Europe.

    He has even set up a Facebook page to try to dissuade others from making the hazardous trip through Libya.

    The Facebook group set up by Gassama
    Image caption: Gassama set up this Facebook group to dissuade fellow migrants from coming through Libya
  38. Treading carefully

    Katya Adler

    Europe editor

    writes: "EU leaders will tread warily today. They'll phrase their public statements very carefully.

    "There will be expressions of outrage at the human traffickers who put people on the boats in the first place, and an emphasis on the EU helping people caught in war zones, by supporting UN efforts at conflict resolution and government-building.

    "Underlying this though is a drive to stop people trying to enter Europe in their hundreds of thousands."

    Read more.

  39. 'Could have been me'

    Gavin Lee

    BBC News, Malta

    tweets: "Today's painful for me, every survivor here knows it could have been them" Pushra, a Sudanese migrant at Malta funeral.

    A Sudanese migrant in Malta
  40. Post update

    And here's the full statement by senior UN officials (see 13:01) on the migrant crisis.

  41. How many more?

    Protesters in Brussels are calling for urgent measures to prevent further tragedies at sea.

    A protestor holds up a sign during a demonstration in Brussels
  42. Solidarity plea

    Also in Brussels, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says: "We need for the EU to develop an effective, human policy for migration based on solidarity, particularly for the frontlines in the Mediterranean countries."

    Greece - along with Italy and Malta - is struggling to cope with the rising tide of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East.

  43. 'Catastrophe'

    Angela Merkel describes the tragedy at the weekend as a "catastrophe".

    Tackling the issue is a matter of the European Union's values, she says, worldwide, and is of the utmost importance.

    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses reporters as she arrives at the European Council headquarters for an extraordinary summit of European leaders to deal with a worsening migration crisis, on April 23, 2015 in Brussels
  44. 'Roadmap'

    Arriving at the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says: "Above all, we have to save people's lives and take adequate measures.

    "I hope that in the coming days we'll have a roadmap, we have a great deal to do in this area..."

  45. Prosecutor's statement

    The Sicilian prosecutor's office, investigating Sunday's capsizing, says the Italian navy will gather evidence from the wreck "as soon as possible".

    It says the migrants paid between $700 (£466) and $7,000 for the trip, and were first kept on a farm outside Tripoli for up to a month, where they were subject to violence.

  46. Post update

    Donald Tusk, European Council President

    tweets: Saving innocent people's lives is 1st priority. This includes rescuing people, but also fighting smugglers & preventing illegal #migration.

  47. Post update

    Katya Adler

    Europe editor

    tweets: #Merkel, #Cameron, #Hollande +Italian PM Renzi, meeting together before start of #EU migration summit: The powerful establishing positions

  48. Another 220 migrants rescued

    The Italian coastguard says it rescued 220 migrants travelling in two dinghies off the coast of Libya on Thursday morning. They were taken to the Sicilian port of Catania.

    A rescued migrant with a number on his right arm, sits on bus after disembark off the Italian Guardia di Finanza vessel Denaro at the Sicilian harbour of Catania on April 23, 2015.
  49. Post update

    Foreign Policy magazine

    tweets: For survivors of trip across the Mediterranean, the promised land isn't what it seemed http://atfp.co/1zNvrgD

  50. 'Nowhere near enough'

    Chris Morris

    BBC News, Brussels

    writes: "Europe's leaders have been shocked by the appallingly high number of deaths at sea in the past few weeks - and they are gathering at the highest political level to try to find ways to stop it.

    "There will be pledges of more resources and more naval assets to patrol the Mediterranean, and there will be discussion of targeted military strikes to destroy the boats used by smuggling gangs.

    "Critics say it's nowhere near enough - that even doubling the size of the current naval effort will leave it smaller than it was a year ago."

  51. 'Minimalist' plan

    Senior UN officials describe a 10-point EU plan agreed on Monday to tackle the crisis as "minimalist," saying it focuses primarily on stemming the arrival of migrants and refugees on EU shores.

    In an open letter to the EU, the head of the UN refugee agency, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, the UN special representative on International Migration and the Director General of the International Organisation of Migration call for "bold, collective action," making the safety, protection and human rights of migrants the top priority.

  52. Tears for the unknown

    Gavin Lee

    BBC News, Malta

    tweets: Hundreds attend Maltese public funeral for 24 unidentified migrants

    Migrants attend funeral for 24 victims of boat disaster in Malta (23 April 2015)
  53. 'Funeral march'

    Ahead of the EU gathering in Brussels, Amnesty International activists and migrants took part in a "funeral march" to draw attention to the Mediterranean migrants crisis.

    Amnesty International activists and migrants take part in a "funeral march" to outline the Mediterranean migrants crisis around the European Council in Brussels
  54. At the scene

    Stuart Hughes

    BBC News, Malta

    writes: "The 24 men laid to rest here were mourned, even though their names are unknown.

    "Their plain, dark wood coffins were slowly carried from the hospital mortuary on the shoulders of members of Malta's armed forces, along a route lined with bouquets of flowers."

    Read more.

  55. Post update

    Who are the people smugglers? Experts say they are part of complex criminal networks that do not recognise borders and are akin to "multinational corporations".

  56. Post update

    The 24 people buried in Malta today are the only victims of the disaster whose bodies have so far been found. It's thought most of the more than 800 people who died were trapped inside the boat.

  57. Post update

    In Malta, funerals have been held for 24 of those killed in Sunday's disaster - the worst ever recorded capsizing of a migrant boat.

    A bishop and an imam deliver messages in front of the coffins 24 migrants in Tal-Qroqq, Malta
  58. Post update

    Ahead of the talks in Brussels, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said his country was "at war" with migrant traffickers, urging the EU to take robust steps, not ruling out military action.

  59. Post update

    Welcome to our live coverage as EU leaders are holding an emergency summit on the growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, following the deaths of more than 800 people on Sunday. Stay with us for the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, eyewitness reports and reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.