A pregnant illegal migrant died this morning shortly after being rescued from the sea by a cargo ship some 79 miles off Malta. The ship had reported that the woman was in poor health, and although the AFM scrambled a helicopter to transfer her to Malta, it was too late.

The AFM said the woman's corpse and that of another woman had been recovered by a patrol boat, while 28 migrants, said to be Somali and Nigerian were safely rescued from the sea.

The presence of the migrants was first reported by the Maltese-registered tug-boat 'Vittorin' which started picking up some of the migrants. Shortly after, the merchant ship 'Northumberland' reported having rescued a pregnant woman, who was suffering from severe breathlessness. An Italian Military Mission Air Force AB212 rescue helicopter was scrambled from Luqa but the woman died before she could be reached for treatment by the AFM doctor onboard.

Following a search in the immediate area of where the migrants were found, patrol boat P-52 then took onboard two female migrants corpses and the rescued 28 migrants. They are expected to be landed at Haywharf Base this afternoon.

An AFM patrol boat last night also brought to Malta 81 migrants who had been in two groups when they were rescued off Malta.

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