Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Rescuers Save 3000 Refugees; 20 Unseaworthy Boats Intercepted

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Rescuers Save 3000 Refugees; 20 Unseaworthy Boats Intercepted

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM WITHNALL

THOUSANDS of refugees were rescued from a fleet of small wooden boats in a major operation off the coast of Libya on Monday. Captured in dramatic images and video, the rescue involved Italian naval ships and vessels operated by two non-government groups.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was still trying to verify the number of mainly Somalis and Eritreans fleeing Libya on around 20 small unseaworthy wooden boats, spotted by the authorities 21km off Sabratha, Libya.

But the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms said 3000 refugees were rescued, making it one of the largest single operations in the Mediterranean this year.

The charity's vessels were among the first to encounter the smugglers' boats, prompting some of the refugees on board to jump into the water and start swimming towards them. Others were pictured carefully carrying babies on to the rescue ships. They were then transferred to the larger ships of the Italian navy and MSF, and it is expected they will be taken on to be processed in Sicily or on the Italian mainland. …

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