Thousands of people rescued in single day of Mediterranean missions

The LÉ Samuel Beckett was involved in two separate missions, while charity MSF says it rescued 2,000 people

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A wooden boat used by refugees to leave Libya drifts abandoned after a rescue operation to save migrants on the Mediterranean sea. Image: Santi Palacios / AP/Press Association Images

Thousands of people have been rescued today as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett rescued 128 refugees and migrants in two separate rescue operations in the region.

The first operation took place at 8.30am this morning, when 19 people were rescued off the North East coast of Tripoli.

In the second operation, 109 people were rescued from a rubber craft.

In both cases the migrants were brought on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett where they received food and water, as well as medical treatment for those who required it.

Irish participation in the humanitarian mission on the Mediterranean has resulted in the rescue of more than 12,500 people, the Defence Forces say.

The Irish missions came amid a busy day for humanitarian teams in the area.

According to Reuters, 6,055 refugees and migrants on around 40 boats were rescued today as they attempted to reach Europe.

The charity Médecins Sans Frontières said its crews rescued 2,000 men, women and children from 11 separate boats in less than seven hours.

The organisation said one young pregnant woman died after being rescued by the Dignity I vessel, before she could be transferred to land.

Nicolas Papachrysostomou, MSF’s Field Coordinator on the Dignity I, said: “When we arrived to our second rescue this morning, people were in the water and some were close to drowning. It was a horrific site. People were frightened and many of them were suffering from fuel burns, particularly women and children.

"It is just unacceptable that in 2016, these people are left with no other choice than making this dramatic and deadly journey," he added.

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died attempting to make the perilous crossing this year.