German navy ship in Mediterranean migrant rescue

8th May 2015, Comments 0 comments

A German navy ship o Friday came to the rescue of a boat carrying some 200 migrants in the Mediterranean, the defence ministry said, days after it joined a beefed-up EU mission.

"We received an emergency call at around 9 o'clock this morning" from Italian authorities, a German defence ministry spokesman told reporters.

The German ship, Hessen, went to the aid of the stricken wooden vessel and began evacuating passengers, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, he added.

He told reporters that, in coordination with Italian authorities, the passengers were due to be taken to an Italian harbour.

Germany deployed two ships -- the frigate, Hessen, and a task force supply ship called Berlin -- on Monday headed for the area off Libya.

At a Brussels summit last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the two ships which were previously used in the anti-piracy mission known as Atalanta off the Horn of Africa.

They are loaded with life rafts, life vests, blankets and medical supplies, and staffed by eight doctors.

On April 19, some 750 migrants were killed when their trawler sank between Libya and southern Italy, sparking global outrage and demands for action.

Four days later EU leaders tripled the bloc's budget for patrols off Libya.

More than 5,000 migrants have died trying to reach Europe's shores in rickety boats over the past 18 months.

© 2015 AFP

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