Nearly 130 refugees were saved from drowning when the naval ship LÉ Niamh rescued them from a sinking dinghy off the Libyan coast after earlier taking onboard a further 250 from similar unseaworthy craft.
The crew of the LÉ Niamh rescued 380 migrants in three separate operations yesterday, bringing her total saved to 3,723.
She has now rescued more than LÉ Eithne, and the combined total for refugee rescues between the two ships currently stands at 7,100.
LÉ Niamh’s first rescue operation took place at 9.45am Irish time, when she took onboard 124 people from a rubber craft 58km north-east of of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
Shortly before 12pm, the naval ship rescued a further 127 refugees from another inflatable which was 5km nearer the coastline.
However, the most serious incident happened around 3pm when the navy ship steamed 15km away to rescue refugees on another dinghy, which was losing air and on the point of sinking.
LÉ Niamh managed to reach the dinghy in time and rescued the 129 people onboard.
An Italian coastguard vessel, Alesio, also arrived on the scene to help. She had earlier rescued 133 migrants which she transferred to LÉ Niamh. The Irish ship was directed to take all onboard to the Sicilian port of Augusta for disembarkation. She is expected to arrive there at 10am today.
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