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Irish rescue vessel LE Niamh discovers 14 dead bodies aboard migrant barge

Rescue efforts in the Med have saved thousands of people from possible death
Rescue efforts in the Med have saved thousands of people from possible death

Fourteen bodies have been discovered on an overcrowded migrant barge in the Mediterranean.

The Irish Navy said the remains were lifted along with 210 surviving refugees from the wooden vessel around 80km (50 miles) off the Libyan coast.

There were 35 children among the rescued.

They are getting food, water and medical attention as part of an international migrant rescue mission.

The LE Niamh naval ship was sent to the scene, north west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, yesterday around 4:30pm, along with a Medecins Sans Frontieres vessel.

An Irish Defence Forces spokesman said: "During searches of the barge the crew of the LE Niamh recovered 14 bodies from below the deck of the barge."

It is thought the doomed barge left Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The remains were late last night taken aboard the naval ship, before it set off towards the port of Messina in Sicily.

The LE Niamh has so far rescued 1,280 migrants as part of the international humanitarian mission.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it is outraged about the discovery of the bodies.

Paula Farias, coordinator on the organisation's Dignity I vessel which assisted in the operation, said migrants with no other options should be helped to flee their countries.

"It is heartbreaking to see human lives lost at sea," she said.

"We not only need a large scale search and rescue operation to stop this humanitarian crisis but also need for safe and legal channels to be created so that people fleeing their countries can find protection in Europe.

"What we see each and every day on the Mediterranean is that many people are left with no option but to risk their lives at sea."

Ms Farias said those rescued included migrants fleeing Morocco, Sudan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Eritrea and Bangladesh.