Sunday 18 March 2018

Crew of LÉ Niamh make grim discovery of 14 dead migrants

Crew members of the LÉ Niamh rescue migrants in the Mediterranean
Crew members of the LÉ Niamh rescue migrants in the Mediterranean
A woman is helped on board the LÉ Niamh
The rescue dinghy approaches the barge

Brian Hutton

The crew of the Irish naval ship the LÉ Niamh has discovered 14 dead bodies on an overcrowded migrant barge in the Mediterranean.

Around 210 migrants - among them 35 children - were found alive on the wooden vessel around 80km off the coast of Libya.

The LÉ Niamh was sent to the scene, north west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, at around 4.30pm on Monday, along with a Medecins Sans Frontieres vessel.

An Irish Defence Forces spokesman said: "During searches of the barge the crew of the LÉ Niamh recovered 14 bodies below the deck."

It is thought the doomed barge left Tripoli in the early hours of Monday morning.

In an earlier mission, the crew of the LÉ Niamh rescued another 243 migrants, among them 27 children.

Altogether, the Irish naval ship had 453 rescued migrants on board yesterday as it headed for the port of Messina in Sicily.

The LÉ Niamh has so far rescued 1,280 migrants since it joined the international mission in the Mediterranean in the middle of this month.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was outraged about the discovery of the dead bodies.

Paula Farias, coordinator on the MSF 'Dignity I' vessel, which assisted in the operation, said migrants with no other options should be helped to flee their countries.

"It is heartbreaking to see human lives lost at sea," she said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News