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Oil workers rescue 135 migrants off Libyan coast

Oil workers rescue 135 migrants off Libyan coast

Libya

Workers on a Libyan oil tanker on Tuesday rescued 135 migrants on the high seas off the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha, about 70 km west of Tripoli.

The migrants have been taken to a safe zone in Zawiyah refinery, 45 km west of Tripoli.

This came just hours after Libyan coastguards intercepted and detained 550 would-be migrants heading to Europe. Among them were three children and 30 women, eight of them pregnant.

Despite strict immigration measures taken by Europe, hundreds of migrants continue to pour across the Mediterranean.

So far this year more that 34,000 people have been taken to the Italian shores after being rescued off Libya, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Migrant smugglers have taken advantage of chaos in the North African country since Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, with thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya just 300km from Italy.

The onset of better weather conditions has raised fears of huge numbers of people attempting the perilous sea crossing.

On Monday, Italy’s coastguard said two Italian naval vessels and two operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rescued around 2,000 migrants from unseaworthy boats in 15 separate operations.

An Irish navy ship rescued hundreds more, as did a passing cargo ship, the Italian coastguard said.

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