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Street artist Banksy funds pink boat to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean

The elusive street artist Banksy has funded a pink and white boat that has been rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

The boat has been named Louise Michel after the 19th-century female French anarchist and teacher.

The colourful vessel features some of the British artist's most famed work, including a girl holding a heart-shaped safety buoy.

The ship's website said the vessel "is as agile as she is pink" and that Banksy bought it with the proceeds of his sold artwork and decorated it with a fire extinguisher.

On Thursday it rescued 89 people from a rubber boat after a distress call was sounded.

The Louise Michel boat is 50 kilometres southeast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, marinetraffic.com said on Friday.

'You sound like a badass'

The 31-metre motor yacht is "crewed by a team of rescue professionals drawn from across Europe".

German human rights activist Pia Klemp is the captain of the ship, according to the Guardian.

The newspaper said he reached out to Klemp in an e-mail.

"Hello Pia, I've read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass," Banksy wrote.

"I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can't keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy."

Migrant crossings in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Sea route from North Africa is a popular route for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe.

But it is a long deadly journey.

More than 100,00 migrants attempted the crossing last year and in excess of 1,200 died doing so, the International Organization for Migration said.

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