Libya: Over 8,000 Migrants Rescued

The migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean last weekend alone.

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Italian coastguards and officials of the European Union Frontex border force mission last weekend alone rescued at least 8,000 migrants off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean as the migrants made desperate attempts to get to Italy, The Indian Express news organ reported. The migrants were said to be most from Sub-Saharan Africa and a handful from Syria.

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Citing an Italian coast guard, the news organ said, around 2,400 migrants were rescued and 14 dead bodies pulled from the water on Saturday, October 22, 2016. The rescue operation was done by the crew of the Norwegian Siem Pilot and another aid boat.  “I’ve never had a SAR (search and rescue) like this. We were in the process of transferring 1,000 migrants from the Okyroe (tanker) to the Siem Pilot when suddenly, in the dark, rubber boats appeared. It looked hopeless,” Pal Erik Teigen, the police officer in charge of the rescue operation is quoted as saying.

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A painting of the horrific rescue scenes described the case of some 25 people who threw themselves into the water to attempt to swim towards the Siem Pilot, forcing the captain to pull back to deter others on the dinghy from doing the same. Speed boats from the Siem Pilot later pulled the migrants from the sea and the dinghy and transferred them onto the tanker to wait rescue by another vessel. Medecins Sans Frontieres charity’s Dignity vessel reportedly picked up the dead.

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Jan Erik Valen, an intelligence officer and crew member who provided security for the operation, part of the EU’s Frontex border force mission in the region, while describing the scene  is quoted as saying that,  “It was chaos on the tanker. They were pushing us towards the only way off the boat, coming from everywhere and pushing for lifejackets, arguing over them.”

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Reports say up to 25 people were still missing by Sunday, feared drowned after men on a Libyan coastguard speedboat attacked a packed migrant dinghy during a rescue operation on Friday, October 21, 2016 off the coast.

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