LÉ Niamh saves 225 amid huge rescue effort
Published 24/08/2015 | 02:30
The LÉ Niamh has rescued 225 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in one of the most challenging weekends for European naval ships yet.
The migrants had been drifting off the coast of Libya in two inflatable vessels when they were found by the Irish crew.
Saturday night's incidents bring the number of people rescued by the LÉ Niamh since July to 1,997.
More than 2,000 migrants were rescued by a team of naval ships from across Europe on Saturday night alone.
Saturday's rescue operation began at 7.40pm Irish time, after an inflatable vessel carrying 107 migrants was found around 112km north-east of Tripoli. The LÉ Niamh managed to get all migrants on board by midnight.
At 1.30 yesterday morning, the naval ship was tasked with rescuing a further 118 migrants nearby. All of those migrants were on board the LÉ Niamh by less than four hours later.
Among those rescued were 139 men, 74 women and 12 children.
The LÉ Niamh's efforts formed part of an international operation to rescue more than 20 vessels carrying migrants.
Many of them were inflatable vessels or unseaworthy fishing boats.
Two Italian navy vessels, a Norwegian military ship and a boat belonging to Doctors Without Borders were also involved in Saturday's mission.
It is believed to be one of the biggest single-day operations in the Mediterranean so far.
The United Nations estimates that 264,500 migrants have attempted to enter Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the year.