Spanish Navy frigate Numancia and Royal Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise, presently deployed in EUNAVFOR’s operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea, rescued 436 people off the coast of Libya.
The Spanish frigate was on patrol in the area when a maritime patrol aircraft spotted and informed of a boat adrift with many people onboard.
The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome designated Numancia as area coordinator. Once in the area the Spanish ship, supported by the smaller craft from HMS Enterprise, began to embark the migrants who were travelling on a rigid-hulled whaling-type boat.
Two merchant ships transiting the zone were also requested to be on standby just in case, but their assistance was finally not required, the Spanish Navy said.
Of the migrants saved, 26 were children, 121 women and 289 men. They were given the necessary first-aid, food and warm clothing. Given the large number of migrants they were accommodated in the ship’s aft hangar and flight deck.
The migrants will be transferred to the Italian port of Taranto where they are scheduled to arrive on May 6.
In another rescue operation which took place just a week ago, European navy vessels saved 587 people from five boats. According to some European Union officials’ estimates, over a million people will try to reach Europe this year.