Rescue operation underway after at least seven people die in Mediterranean

Hundreds more people, including babies and children, have been rescued

Rescue operation underway after at least seven people die in Mediterranean

File photo. An abandoned life jacket is seen from aboard a rescue speedboat of the rescue vessel MOAS. Image: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP/Press Association Images

A mass migrant rescue is under way off the Libyan coast, with at least seven people reported dead so far.

At least seven people attempting to flee Libya have died off the coast near Tripoli.

Hundreds more people, including babies and children, have been saved.

Several other rescue operations have taken place in the region today.

Reporter Mark Stone said it had been an intense morning, with charities working alongside the Italian Coastguard for six hours to rescue people travelling in "flimsy dinghies".

Speaking about one rescue vessel filled with about 200 refugees & migrants, he said: "They have been let loose off the north coast of Africa from Libya with the help of smugglers, trying to reach what they would hope is a better life in Europe."

MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) Onboard Operations Officer Marco Cauchi said: "Today it was intense for the fact the rubber boats were jam pack... they put as many people as they can.. they put in 160 people, it was incredible. These boats are built to only take 100 people. It was dangerously loaded. 

"People were jumping out, fumes were coming up, people were fainting, so it was horrible."

He said one of his own crew members was pulled from the water unconscious after trying to rescue some babies in the water, which was full of fuel.