Date Published : August 5th, 2015 Published By : adminSPECIAL REPORT: LÉ Niamh involved in Major rescue Operation North of Libya
At least 17 people have been confirmed dead after a boat with up to 700 people on board capsized in the waters north of Libya. At least 500 people are reported missing, while 165 have been rescued. The LE Niamh and the Italian military are at the scene along with a number of ships. Rescue efforts by several ships are underway, and an Italian military helicopter is lowering life rafts.
The Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., has confirmed that LÉ Niamh is currently involved in a very difficult rescue operation in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast.
The Minister confirmed that “At 8 am Irish time, the LÉ Niamh was tasked by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) to come to the assistance of a fishing vessel north-west of Tripoli, which was in distress with an estimated 600 persons on board. The LE Niamh, along Italian Naval vessels, the Medicins Sans Frontiére vessel “DIGNITY”, and a number of helicopters are currently engaged in the rescue operation. All assets including RHIBS (rigid hull inflatable boats) and life rafts have been deployed in support of the emergency operation.
The Minister went on to say “As the operation is currently ongoing, with all personnel fully engaged in the rescue, it is difficult to ascertain full details on the scale of the incident. However I understand that the fishing vessel capsized and that the loss of life is likely to be significant. The crew of the Niamh are working flat out with their counterparts to rescue as many as possible. Latest reports from LÉ NIAMH are that 165 people have been rescued. Tragically seventeen bodies have also been recovered. That number is likely to rise in the coming hours”.
The Niamh has a crew of 55 Naval Service personnel, and two medics from the Army Medical Corps. It has rescued more than 600 migrants since its tour of duty began there last month.