Three Survivors Airlifted To Italy After Migrant Boat Sinks Off Libya
Three people suffering advanced hypothermia were rescued off the coast of Libya by an Italian naval helicopter after their rubber dinghy capsized late Friday night. An Italian surveillance aircraft originally spotted the boat in distress and reported the incident to the Libyan Coast Guard, according to a statement issued by the Italian Coast Guard. After the Libyan Coast Guard did not immediately respond, an Italian navy helicopter dropped life boats and pulled three survivors from the sea. The helicopter pilot reported seeing bodies floating in the water, which were not immediately retrieved. Conflicting reports place the original number of refugees and migrants on the sunken vessel at between 50 and 120. The three survivors were taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa and will be questioned by authorities to confirm the number of likely deaths. The tragedy comes days after reports of other dinghies going down in the Mediterranean and the discovery of 16 corpses that had washed up on the beaches near Sirte, Libya since early January. Italy’s right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini closed all Italian ports to NGO rescue vessels last year, making it difficult for those trying to escape Libyan detention centers to reach Italy by sea.