The Naval Service is celebrating rescuing more than 10,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea with the latest rescue coming in the nick of time as a dinghy packed with migrants began to sink.

The crew of LÉ James Joyce plucked the migrants from the dinghy, including two unconscious women.

Their second day of operations began at 9am yesterday when they rescued 184 migrants from two dinghies 20 nautical miles north-west of Tripoli.

It brings the total rescued since Naval service operations began last year to 10,167.

Some of the migrants were taken onboard the Irish ship and the crew also took more people to the Swedish coastguard vessel Phoenix.

Medics onboard LÉ James Joyce revived the unconscious women, dealt with another person who had a broken limb as a result of being squashed in the packed dinghy, and with a person who had a gunshot wound which was probably inflicted two weeks ago.

LÉ James Joyce
LÉ James Joyce 

Meanwhile, the extent of the people-smugglers’ brutality has been revealed after the Italian navy raised a sunken barge which capsized last year.

Inside the locked hold of the barge they found the remains of 458 migrants.

They were locked inside and had no chance of escape.

Forensic experts believe they were so crammed inside that five people were occupying every square metre of space.

The vessel capsized after people on the deck all rushed to one side to attract attention from a passing merchant ship. It’s believed that as many as 800 migrants were packed into the boat.

A forensic team led by a Milan-based university professor is seeking to identify as many of the victims as possible and to build a database to help people find lost relatives.

On August 5 last, LÉ Niamh attended a similar incident when a packed wooden vessel capsized.

The LÉ Niamhin Cobh
The LÉ Niamh in Cobh

The crew rescued 375 migrants and recovered the bodies of 39 more.

It is estimated more than 300 drowned, again many of whom were packed into the boat’s hold.

LÉ Niamh rescued 4,127 migrants on her tour of duty, the most by any single Naval Service ship to date.

The flagship LÉ Eithne rescued a further 3,377 people and LÉ Samuel Beckett took onboard 1,088.

LÉ Róisín rescued 1,263 and recovered three bodies, while to date LÉ James Joyce has rescued 312 in just two days of operations.

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