Irish naval ship rescues hundreds of refugees in Mediterranean

LÉ Eithne called to co-ordinate several rescue operations as migrant crisis continues

The Irish naval ship LÉ Eithne rescued hundreds of refugees from boats in the Mediterranean on Friday as part of ongoing humanitarian efforts in the region.

At 8am the naval service received a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, which oversees rescue operations, asking it to assist an inflatable boat about 83 kilometres off the coast of Libya.

Once it located the vessel it rescued 135 people in an area on the northwest coast of Tripoli. The crew was then requested to co-ordinate further rescue missions being carried out by three NGO vessels who were dealing with 10 distress situations.

Inflatable crafts

The LÉ Eithne completed two further rescues, helping 211 migrants from inflatable crafts, as well as taking 85 on board from one of the NGO ships.

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By Friday afternoon it had 431 migrants on board and was proceeding to further rescue sites.

The vessel was deployed to the Mediterranean on May 23rd as part of the Government's response to the migrant crisis in Europe.

Since first deployment under Operation Pontus in May 2015, Defence Forces personnel have rescued 15,621 migrants.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times