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About 600 migrants recovered at sea off Sabratha (update)

AB212 helicopter (credit: Eunavfor Med)
The Spanish AB212 helicopter in flight (credit: Eunavfor Med – B2 archives)

(B2) Several rubber boats loaded with around 600 migrants in total were recovered at sea off Libya by European ships on Thursday (28 April).

The boats - 5 to be exact - had been spotted by the Spanish Armada's maritime surveillance plane, a Vigma D-4, in the early morning of Thursday, drifting off the coast of Sabratha (Libya) in international waters (around 80 km from the coast according to the German navy). The AB212 helicopter from the Spanish frigate Numancia took over to locate their exact positions and guide the emergency services on site.

Several ships took part in the rescue: the Spanish frigate Numancia, the German frigate Karlsruhe and the support ship Frankfurt on the Main river (A-1412) — all three of which are participating in the European operation EUNAVFOR Med — as well as the Italian coast guard vessel Aviere (Mare Sicuro)

The "Karlsruhe” and the Italian ship “Aviere” took care of 245 people who were on board two canoes. While the "Frankfurt” came to the aid of 117 people. The Spanish frigateNumancia” taking care of the other canoes. The Italian coast guard ship Aviere (Mare Sicuro) then transferred 121 migrants to the German support vessel Frankfurt.

In all, 599 people were recovered in this way, according to the German navy. Among the survivors, 96 women and 7 children. The migrants were evacuated to the Italian ports of Trapani and Catania. The canoes used by the migrants, once empty, were sunk.

Since the EUNAVFOR Med / Sophia operation, 13000 people have been recovered, 68 people have been handed over to the Italian authorities as possible trafficking suspects and approximately 110 ships have been destroyed on site.

On Sunday (April 24), the ship Dactyl of the Guardia Costiera had come to the aid of three inflatable boats recovering 382 people in total (143 in one, 121 in the other, 118 in a third) in the Sicily canal.


Updated with detail of rescue operations

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).