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1,400 Refugees Rescued and 8 Dead Off Libyan Coast

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Boats carrying about 1,400 refugees across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe were rescued on Tuesday, according to the Italian coastguard.

Close to 11 boats overflowing with refugees left Libya for Europe at a time when sea waters were calm.

Eight dead bodies were found by rescuers on Topaz, a ship run by Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). Seven of the bodies were in the same rubber boat, the eighth one was found in another refugee boat.

The rescue missions were coordinated by the Italian coastguard. The rescue efforts included a helicopter, which airlifted three refugees to a hospital, said a spokesperson.

One of the airlifted refugees was rushed to a hospital after experiencing a heart attack, and the other two suffered from severe hypothermia, said the spokesperson.

Save the Children’s vessel, Vos Hestia, also participated in the rescue efforts rescuing over 400 refugees at night from a wooden boat, said the humanitarian group in a post on their Twitter account.

The total number of refugees that died in the Mediterranean so far this year is around 4,655, which is more than last year by at least 1,000, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

Some of the organizations that have been involved in rescue missions on the Mediterranean include MOAS, MSF, Save the Children, the Libyan coast guard and naval and the coast guard vessels of other European countries.

Human smugglers have taken advantage of Libya’s political instability which got out of control following the Libyan uprising that began in February 2011. Smugglers are over crowding fragile dinghies with refugees desperate to flee war, corruption and poverty in hopes of finding a better life in Europe.

Italy has received at least 167,000 refugees so far this year, which is more than the number of refugees that arrived to Italy last year.

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