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Italian ships rescue 66 migrants off Libya

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

ROME – Sixty-six migrants were rescued in international waters off Libya on Thursday during two separate operations carried out by the Italian navy and a charity ship, raising the likelihood of a new stand-off over which port will take them in.

The first group of 36 migrants was picked up by the navy’s Cigala Fulgosi patrol ship around 75 nautical miles off the Libyan coast as part of Italy’s “Mare Sicuro” (“Safe Seas”) operation.

A navy statement said those on board, including two women and eight minors, were in “mortal danger” as their makeshift craft had taken on water, adding that they had been rescued “in line with Italian and international law”.

In the evening, Italian charity rescue ship Mare Jonio said it saved 30 people, including five minors and a pregnant woman, about 40 nautical miles off the Libyan coast.

“We asked the Italian MRCC (Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) for a safe port,” the aid group SOS Mediterranee, which charters the Mare Jonio, tweeted.

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini have warned he would not allow the migrants to be disembarked in Italy.

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