LÉ Samuel Beckett rescues 269 people and recovers three bodies in Mediterranean

The crew on board the Irish ship discovered a sinking rubber vessel during this afternoon's rescue operation

LÉ Samuel Beckett rescues 269 people and recovers three bodies in Mediterranean

Image: Irish Defence Forces

The crew of the Irish naval vessel LÉ Samuel Beckett recovered three bodies during a rescue mission in the Mediterranean earlier today.

Crew members responded to a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre earlier today, with the operation commencing shortly after noon.

They located two rubber vessels around 30 nautical miles north-west of Tripoli. 

269 people were rescued during the operation.

Over the course of the rescue operation, naval crews realised one of the rubber boats was sinking. Three people were declared dead.

All refugees and migrants were on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett by 4pm.

After rendezvousing with an Italian Coast Guard vessel, 160 more refugees & migrants and 11 bodies were also transferred to the Irish ship.

All 429 people are receiving food, water and - where required - medical treatment.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett is the latest Irish vessel to join the humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean sea, after departing Cork on September 23rd.

More than 10,000 people have been rescued by Irish naval crews since May 2015.

Minister of State Paul Kehoe said: "Today's search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean serves as a timely reminder of the often very challenging circumstances that members of the Defence Forces participate in on behalf of us all.  

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their lives, their families and the crew of LÉ Samuel Beckett for whom this has been a difficult operation."