The refugees arrive in one of the boat's tenders. Photo: YouTube screen grab
Siem Pilot arrived off the coast of Libya on June 12th to take part in Operation Triton, an EU border security operation. But Monday's rescue is its first major operation since arriving.
The refugees were crammed on board two small wooden boats, which were intercepted by Siem Pilot in a rescue operation which lasted for several hours.
“All of the migrants have been well taken care of by the crew of the Norwegian ship,” Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service said in a press release. “There were no dead people among those rescued, and no one seems seriously ill. There are several pregnant women among those saved.”
Aside from its Norwegian crew, Siem Pilot has medical and military personnel on board. The Norwegian ship has also taken on board 40 refugees from other ships in the area.
”The rescue operation went according to plan and I am satisfied that our training works in practice,” Commander Tore Barstad told Norway’s TV2 broadcaster. “We got all of the migrants safely from the overcrowded boats they were in to smaller vessels used to transport them to Siem Pilot. They are being cared for by police and military personnel on board,”
´The migrants were then taken to Sicily, where Italian authorities took over responsibility for them.
In April this year EU leaders agreed to boost border control and rescue missions on the Mediterranean after an estimated 900 migrants died when a ship sank off the Libyan coast.
More than 50,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, 1,800 of them dying this year alone.