Spanish charity rescues 117 migrants sailing from Libya

This photo taken on Sept 17, 2020 shows a patrol boat of the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) transporting migrants towards the port of Palermo, Sicily after they rescued them at sea after a group of 76 migrants threw themselves into the sea from the rescue vessel of Spanish NGO Open Arms, off Palermo, Sicily. (PHOTO / AFP)

ROME – Spanish charity Open Arms said it rescued 117 migrants on Saturday crowded onto a precarious wooden boat from Libya in the latest such perilous crossing over the Mediterranean sea.

Last week's shipwreck off Greece, killing at least 79 among hundreds packed onto a fishing boat, has shone a light once again on the deaths of thousands of migrants each year fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that 12 Pakistanis were identified among the survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of Greece

Open Arms said in a statement that it had picked up 117 people on Saturday, including 25 women and a three-year-old boy, mainly from Eritrea, Sudan and Libya.

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The rescue operation took place in international waters 30km off the coast of Libya after the boat left the port of Sabratha under darkness at 0100 GMT, according to the statement and a spokesperson for the charity.

All the passengers were receiving a medical assessment on board the Open Arms vessel, the charity said, without giving more details on where they would be taken.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that 12 Pakistanis were identified among the survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of Greece.

"At this stage, we are unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement.

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She said that the Pakistani mission in Greece remained in contact with the local authorities for the identification and recovery of Pakistani nationals among the deceased and providing relief to the survivors.

The identification of the recovered bodies "will take place through DNA-matching with close family members," she added.