Pope Francis thanks Italian coast guard personnel who took part in rescue operations to save a group of migrants stranded at sea. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Pope Francis thanks members of the Italian coast guard for their work in assisting hundreds of migrants stranded at sea. He hears tales of what they have seen. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) UNNAMED ITALIAN COAST GUARD OFFICIAL, SAYING: "I took part in the rescue operation of a vessel carrying about 770 migrants. Most of them were men, but there were also children and some women. One woman pregnant, and there was a child with disabilities. It's an unforgettable memory that will stay with me forever. What struck me the most was people's eyes, which at first communicated a lot of sadness but also held a glimmer of hope." At least a thousand migrants have been rescued in recent days in more than ten operations carried out by the Italian coast guard. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "I just want to say that I admire you, and I am being honest when I say that I feel small in front of your work, where you are risking your lives and I would like to thank you." European border authorities expect a record number of migrants this year, with human traffickers becoming increasingly aggressive as they take advantage of chaos in Africa and the Middle East.