A French trawler  has returned to Malta after taking 86 tons of humanitarian aid to Misrata, the Libyan harbour town which is being besieged by Gaddafi forces.

The Times photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, who was on board, said the trawler had been chartered by the  Malta and French Red Cross. The supplies included  food, milk, pasta,  medicine and water.

The trawler sailed into Misrata harbour yesterday morning and quickly unloaded the supplies, which were handed to the Red Crescent.

A British television crew, seven Syrians including two young boys and six Ukrainians, including doctors and nurses, were brought back to Malta.

The Ukrainians arrived on the pier just as the trawler cast off, but it returned to pick them up.

Mr Zammit Lupi said the distant sound of heavy artillery pounding the city could be heard for as long as the trawler was alongside in harbour.

Plumes of smoke could be seen over the city as the trawler entered harbour, including thick smoke from an oil depot bombed some days ago.

Jet fighters flew frequently over the area.

He said the situation in the town is 'absolutely critical' with indiscriminate shelling.

People at the harbour said snipers were shooting at everything that moved.

"It is Sarajevo all over again" was how a UK journalist was on the trawler, described it.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us