Italy

4,000 migrants rescued

More than 4,000 would-be refugees were rescued at sea Thursday in one of the busiest days of the Mediterranean migrant crisis, and at least 20 died trying to reach Europe as Libyan-based smugglers took advantage of calmer seas to send desperate migrants north. The death toll was likely to grow far higher, however, as the Libyan coast guard also reported two overturned boats between the coastal cities of Sabratha and Zwara. Only four bodies were found, raising fears that the rest of those on board had perished. Overall, the Italian coast guard said it had coordinated 22 separate rescue operations Thursday.

France

Ship joins hunt for black box

A French naval ship specializing in underwater searches will help search for the black box flight recorders of the EgyptAir flight that crashed in the Mediterranean last week, killing all 66 aboard. The French air accident investigation agency, the BEA, said in a statement the Laplace ship left Thursday from Corsica for the zone of the crash, with two BEA investigators aboard. The Laplace is equipped with three detectors made by the Alseamar company designed to detect and localize signals from the flight recorders, believed about 3,280 yards underwater.

Puerto Rico

Lawmakers prevent tax hike

Puerto Ricoís governor has lost a battle to increase a business-to-business tax and impose a transition to a value-added tax system amid an economic crisis. Senators on Thursday gathered enough votes to approve a bill previously vetoed by Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who warned their actions would push the U.S. territory into deeper financial trouble. The bill prevents an increase of the business-to-business tax from 4 percent to 10.5 percent from going into effect next week.

Thailand

Python ruins manís day

A Thai man is recovering from a bloody encounter with a 10-foot python that slithered through the plumbing of his home and latched its jaws onto his penis as he was using a squat toilet. Attaporn Boonmakchuay was smiling as Thai television stations interviewed him in his hospital bed about the intimate intrusion, and doctors said he would recover. The 38-year-old told Thai TV Channel 7 that he struggled to remove the snake for 30 minutes Wednesday before he managed to free himself with help from his wife and a neighbor. After his wife tied a rope around the snake, Attaporn pried open its jaws before passing out.

Compiled from wire reports