Hundreds of migrants on Banksy boat rescued after overcrowding off Libya coast

Hundreds of migrants stranded on a rescue boat funded by artist Banksy were transferred to safety on another ship.

The Louise Michel was unable to move after picking up 219 migrants off the Libyan coast since Thursday.

It had been stranded off Malta for around 12 hours on Saturday, before the Italian coastguard moved in to rescue 49 of the most vulnerable people.

The coastguard also collected the body of a man who died before the vessel could reach a rubber boat a day earlier.

Another humanitarian ship called Sea-Watch 4 has since taken all the remaining people on board.

A tweet from the Louise Michel account said: “Just transferred all remaining guests onto #SeaWatch4, who now have about 350 people on board.

“It’s not over: We demand a Place of Safety for all survivors, now.”

The boat’s crew had earlier been close to declaring “a state of emergency” after claiming European officials ignored repeated calls for help.

The 31-metre-long motor yacht, which is a former French navy boat, features some of Banksy’s trademark work, including a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped safety buoy.

It was named Louise Michel after a 19th-century female French anarchist and teacher.

The crew bought it with the proceeds of some of Banksy’s works. It is captained by a professional crew with a “flat hierarchy and a vegan diet”.

Banksy, widely believed to be from Bristol, reportedly first made contact with Pia Klemp, an experienced captain of a number NGO boats, in September last year, asking if he could help.

On Friday morning, the crew said they had rescued 89 people, including 14 women and four children, and were seeking a place of safety for them to disembark.

That evening, the vessel lent assistance to another overcrowded boat filling with water, which had a dead body on board and many people suffering fuel burns.