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Migrant rescue operations continue

Published 22/06/2015

The LE Eithne has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue migrants
The LE Eithne has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue migrants

Irish Navy crews have now rescued more than 2,000 fleeing migrants in the ongoing humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean.

In the latest operation, another 519 refugees were pulled from vessels including an inflatable boat and a barge while attempting to cross the sea.

The passengers - men, women and children - were found aboard three vessels about 93 km (56 miles) north-west of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, today.

The LE Eithne, one of Ireland's naval patrol vessels, initially located and rescued the 104 migrants on an inflatable craft in the area in the early hours of this morning.

Conditions at the time were good and it took just over an hour to get all the refugees onboard, a spokesman said.

Immediately afterwards, the ship was called to the scene of a barge in the same area carrying a further 362 migrants. The rescue mission started around 7:20am and took more than three hours.

The crews were then sent to a third incident at 11am, where they came across 53 migrants packed into a small fibreglass boat.

The LE Eithne currently has 401 men, 98 women and 20 children onboard, according to the Defence Forces, and is awaiting directions from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

So far, the naval ship has rescued 2136 migrants in the ongoing humanitarian search and rescue operations, having departed from Naval Service Headquarters in Haulbowline, Cork, on May 16.

Last week, it brought 500 migrants into the Italian port of Catania.

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