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Dozens of children among 329 migrants rescued at sea

Six newborn babies were among those rescued as water flooded into the wooden boat off the coast of Libya.

More than 300 people, including newborn babies, have been rescued from a wooden fishing boat off Libya’s coast and taken to an Italian port.

The Spanish defence ministry said water was flooding the boat when rescuers reached it on Saturday north-east of the Libyan town of Misrata.

The ministry said a Spanish frigate working on a European border patrol mission and a vessel of the Spanish non-governmental organisation Proactiva Open Arms transferred 329 people from the wooden boat.

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Aid workers transfer survivors to a Spanish warship (AP)

The migrants were from various Sub-Saharan African countries and included 95 women, three of them pregnant, and 37 children — including six newborns, according to Javier Yrayzoz, a Second Lieutenant with Spain’s Santa Maria frigate.

Lt Yrayzoz said rescuers worked against the clock to securely transfer the migrants from the fishing boat as its stowage, where many of the passengers were crammed, filled up with water.

He said: “We saw moments of heightened tension because the water leak forced us to operate at high speed while safety measures tell us to operate cautiously.”

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A woman is rescued from the boat, which was taking on water (AP)

A doctor with the frigate said those rescued showed symptoms related to hypothermia and tiredness, but overall they were healthy.

The ministry said the migrants were taken to Italy.

The International Organisation for Migration said 4,742 migrants entered Europe by sea this year through to January 25, with 206 others dying en route.

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