Rescue ships remove 394 migrants from dangerously overcrowded boat for Tunisia

Two humanitarian rescue ships pulled 394 migrants from a dangerously overcrowded wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday during an operation that lasted about six hours, a Reuters witness said.

German and French NGO ships Sea-Watch 3 and Ocean Viking rescued the migrants in Tunisian waters 68 km (42 miles) off the North African coast, near oil facilities and other vessels.

Sea-Watch 3, which took command of the operation, took 141 of the survivors with it, while Ocean Viking took over the rest. The yacht Nadir, of the German NGO ResQ Ship, later provided support.

It was not clear if there were any deaths or injuries among the migrants who were in the wooden boat, which was packed with migrants on deck and in the hull.

The craft took in water and the engine failed, a Reuters witness said.

The departures of migrant boats from Libya and Tunisia to Italy and other parts of Europe have increased in recent months as weather conditions have improved.

More than 1,100 people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East in the Mediterranean have died this year, according to the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration.

Many of the migrants in this latest rescue were seen jumping from the boat and trying to swim to Sea-Watch 3, the Reuters witness said.

The migrants were mainly men from Morocco, Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria.

(REUTERS)

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