Updated 12.05am, 6.50 am Sunday
A group of 130 migrants who were rescued south of Malta was brought to Malta on an AFM patrol boat last night in a busy 24 hours for forces from Italy, the United States and Malta.
Another seven migrants were also airlifted to Malta for urgent medical treatment yesterday. Five of the migrants were brought to Malta in the morning by a US Navy Osprey aircraft and another two were flown to Malta late last night by a Malta-based Italian Military Mission helicopter.
The AFM said the group brought to Malta included 11 women. At that particular time Malta was the closest safe port for them.
A further 282 more were picked up by the US amphibious assault vessel Bataan and 453 by Italian frigates south of Lamedusa and taken to the Italian island.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat praised the AFM and the Italian and US navies for their work. In a tweet he said: 'Armed Forces of Malta doing a great job with Italia 'Mare Nostrum' and US Navy in joint operations on migration. Europe totally absent."
The Italian Navy also rescued some 3,000 migrants in the previous 48 hours. Its units have drawn a patrol line North of Libya in an operation called Mare Nostrum.
However the Italian Home Affairs Minister told a meeting of EU home affairs minister earlier this week that Italy could not continue to bear the cost of the operation on its own.
25 MIGRANT BOATS BEING MONITORED
The AFM in a statement yesterday morning said it was involved in a large scale operation which involved 25 migrant boats at sea simultaneously.
"The AFM is actively contributing to one of the largest aero-naval search and rescue operation that unfolded in the Mediterranean over the past years.
"The search and rescue operation saw the involvement of a number of Italian Navy/ Coast Guard vessels, US Navy warships, all the merchant vessels in the area as well as three AFM patrol vessels and an AFM Maritime Patrol Aircraft."
The AFM said one of its patrol boats rescued a group of migrants (including 13 woman and a baby) after their dinghy deflated and all the persons on board ended up at sea.
During medical examination it resulted that three migrants required medical assistance. A joint operation with USS Bataan saw the migrants being transferred onto the US Warship and it was decided that a total of five migrants were to be transferred to Mater Dei Hospital in Malta from the US warship, using its onboard V22 Osprey aircraft .
The aircraft landed at the Malta International Airport with the five migrants where ambulances transferred the migrants for further medical treatment at Mater Dei Hospital.
All the operations throughout the night were coordinated by the Maltese and Italian Rescue and Coordination Centres.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us