Ocean Viking ship rescues 100 migrants off Libya

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - 2020/03/20: The rescue vessel Ocean Viking, of SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives at the port of Marseille for an indefinite stopover until the end of the covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: The rescue vessel Ocean Viking, of SOS Mediterranee. (Photo by Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Crew members of the Ocean Viking humanitarian vessel on Saturday rescued more than a hundred migrants off the Libyan coast, the European NGO running the boat said.

“Today, #OceanViking rescued around 106 children, women & men from an overcrowded dinghy that had run into trouble in international waters around 34 nautical miles from #Libya,” SOS Mediterranee tweeted.

“A person who was unconscious was evacuated to the ship and is recovering. Several survivors are in great emotional distress,” the Marseille-based NGO said.

An official for SOS Mediterranee told AFP that the rescued migrants included 31 men, eight women and 67 children, of whom 51 were unaccompanied.

On Thursday, Ocean Viking had already rescued 10 people, including three children and a baby suffering from dehydration.

They are now all out of danger, the official said.

During its first winter mission in January and February, the vessel rescued around 800 people.

Another rescue ship run by the Spanish NGO Open Arms has also taken to the seas.

Libya has become a key route for irregular migration to Europe in the chaotic years since the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

While many migrants have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

Most migrants leave from Libya and Tunisia attempting a hazardous Mediterranean crossing to try to enter Europe through Italy.

More than 1,200 died last year while trying to cross the Mediterranean.