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Euronews

All migrants aboard a rescue boat funded by British street artist Banksy have been transferred to other boats, the team behind the mission said after the pink and white vessel carrying more than 200 passengers sent out an urgent appeal for help.

An Italian patrol boat raced to the MV Louise Michel stranded in the Mediterranean and received 49 of the most vulnerable people on Saturday, the coast guard said.

The remaining migrants on board, about 150 people, were received on a boat chartered by the German NGO Sea Watch and the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the organisations and Louise Michel crew said on Twitter.

The crew said that the 31-meter boat was overcrowded and unable to move, and noted that some of the migrants had fuel burns and had been at sea for days.

"Faced with the danger of the situation, the Coast Guard sent a patrol boat to Lampedusa that took in 49 people considered the most fragile, including 32 women, 13 children and four men," a Coast Guard statement said.

The rescued migrants said that three people had died at sea before the Louise Michel rescue ship arrived.

Banksy, who keeps his identity a secret, said in an online video that he bought the boat to help the migrants "because EU authorities deliberately ignore calls for help from non-Europeans."